1/  Leaf Violence                              (Massacre)                    4.43
  2/  Down to Five a Day                         (Massacre)                    4.42
  3/  Lizard-Skin Junk-Mail                      (Massacre)                    5.26
  4/  Ladder                                     (Massacre)                    11.30
  5/  South Orange Sunset                        (Massacre)                    4.13
  6/  Six-Cylinder Sinister                      (Massacre)                    5.21
  7/  300 Days in the Vacant Lot                 (Massacre)                    7.34
  8/  Say Hey Willie                             (Massacre)                    1.39
  9/  Talk Radio                                 (Massacre)                    3.48
  10/ Well-Dressed Ripping Up Wood               (Massacre)                    1.13
  11/ Further Coversations With White Arc        (Massacre)                    6.24

          Recorded January 1998 at Orange Music, New Jersey
          Produced by Massacre
          Engineered by Robert Musso
          Executive Producer: John Zorn
          Associate Producer: Kazunori Sugiyama
          Mastered by Allan Tucker at Foothill Digital, NYC
Fred Frith: guitar; Bill Laswell: bass; Charles Heyward: drums.

          1998 - Tzadik  (USA), TZ7601 (CD)


Almost 17 years after Massacre's only album and the group's end, a second album appeared out of the blue (for this writer anyway), and while I had never heard their first, it was on my to-do list for years, but I got to hear this one well before the historic album. Still a big Frith project with the great Bill Laswell backing him on bass, but this time they are joined by the immense Charles Hayward (Quiet Sun and This Heat), this album could only be fantastic, even if the operation was risky for their reputation. And truth be told: it is fantastic!! And to top it all the great John Zorn is producing the album as well.

Right off the bat, Massacre (with opener 'Leaf Violence') catches you by the throat, transforms it in a stranglehold and gives you only the minimum breathing space as not to choke you to death, but let's face it, your brains will have melted by the end of the album, assured air supply or not (no pun intended ;-). Clearly the group has not taken one wrinkle and every moments sizzle so hard that you wonder whether your speakers will hang on for their lives long enough until the disc has been ejected. Not everything is typical either as the mid section of the third track, called 'Skin Junk' is veering in dub- type of music, but the highlight of the start of the album is the 11-min+ Ladder, where Frith just floats on Laswell's great bass bed and Hayward's frantic drumming, torturing his guitar. Ladder has a bit of a drum'n bass feel (but over halfway, this digresses into a improv too), and it is up to Frith to take the show with his improvisation skills, which he does amazingly well.

'Orange Sunset' is a rare breathing moment and the quietest and most ambient track of the album. The sinister 'Six Cylinder' is a slow crescendo, climaxing chaotically before returning to its original jungle-like ambiance. Vacant Lot starts much the same way with Frith almost doing a Fripp, but it is Laswell's show, this time. The album goes on with more superb tracks, which are just as torrid as the previous ones, never releasing the clutch and driving your brains to the overdose. Only the fairly different closing White Arc is slightly weaker, but by that time our brains are clinically dead.

This absolutely mental album suffers a bit from its length (and to a lesser extent, the lack of more instruments), but overall, it shines like the sun in the middle of drought, frying everything in sight including what's left of your neurones. Massacre just managed great with what could've been a disaster and was most likely a long shot even for three masters like them. Outstanding and standing out.

Sean Trane (courtesy of the Prog Archives website)