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Zaïmph, XXL drop year-end releases 

click to enlarge Lubelski. Zaïmph’s, Rhizomatic Gaze
  • Lubelski. Zaïmph’s, Rhizomatic Gaze
Musicians dwelling on the noisier side of improvisation have followed the lead of hip-hop artists in recent years by suddenly dropping year-end studio releases without advance notice. This year, we’re graced with new efforts from Zaïmph, the Chris Corsano/Bill Orcutt duo and a collaboration between the bands Xiu Xiu and Larsen called XXL.

Of the three, the Zaïmph double-LP is the most ambitious. Marcia Bassett is a Brooklyn keyboard virtuoso who has led such ensembles as Double Leopards, GHQ and Hototogisu. She reserves the name Zaïmph for her solo outings, and for duos with violinist Samara Lubelski. Zaïmph’s last two year-end releases were intriguing studies in drone, but this year’s Rhizomatic Gaze (Drawing Room Records) is an outright symphony, with multiple suites examining the life patterns of rhizomes (ask a botanist) with a subtle nod or two to humans. It’s a challenging work, but breathtaking. Check out the vocal babble in “Removing Bits of History.”

Chris Corsano and Bill Orcutt, one of the decade’s wildest drum-and-guitar units, are coming off the release of two live sets. On Brace Up! (Palilalia), the duo offers up a studio session where Orcutt relies solely on electric guitar, with a sound reminiscent of his old noise-rock outfit Harry Pussy. The complex rhythms come close to a math-rock version of Led Zep or Don Caballero, though Corsano and Orcutt remain more crazy than either.

XXL’s Puff O’Gigio (Bad Paintings) is the least interesting of this ensemble’s three outings, because it hews too close to pure EDM. Luckily, Xiu Xiu have their own very strange album prepped for February.

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