Old Time Relijun


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Songbook Vol 1 , 6.5/10
Uterus And Fire , 7.5/10
La Sirena De Pecera , 6/10 (comp)
Witchcraft Rebellion , 7/10
Lost Light (2004) , 6/10
2012 (2005), 5/10
Catharsis in Crisis (2007) , 4/10
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(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Old Time Relijun, a surreal trio of roots-music, fronted by singer, guitarist and saxophonist Arrington DeDionyso, debuted with Songbook Vol 1 (Pine Cone Alley, 1997), devoted to a primitive surrealism that attacks folk, country, rockabilly and blues like a disease. The songs of this album and the single Jail (1998) swing between Holy Modal Rounders and Captain Beefheart, Violent Femmes and Trumans Water.

Uterus And Fire (K, 1999), the first album to feature drummer Phil Elverun, focused on blues and jazz, the way Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Doo Rag could do. Archaeopteryx Claw is one of their masterpieces, a vibrant Delta-blues guitar paced by booming drums while the singer howls to the moon his ugly mantra. Jail is the most electrifying track, almost punk-rock in the tradition of the Birthday Party. The shameless bacchanal of Casino sounds like the Teenage Jesus jamming with a jazz quartet. The voodoobilly Burning Head sounds like Cramps in a trance.
This is largely DeDionyso's show. His vocal histrionics turn each song into a tour de force. Dagger is primal Captain Beefheart neurosis coupled with Jello Biafra hysteria. The grotesque march of Giant Boat and the dramatic folly of Johnny Appleseed approach David Thomas' eloquent paranoia, while the dramatic rant of Office Building surpasses David Peel's irreverent dementia. Telephone Call is DeDionyso's masterpiece, as the voice growls, creaks and squeals during a slow, bluesy number. Only the six-minute Broken Water is perhaps too self-indulgent.
The solo of jews-harp on Khomuz and the frantic instrumental jam Hot Oven prove their worth as musicians.
Atonal guitars and childish drums create a divine mayhem that stands as the most spastic revisitation of Captain Beefheart's mission.

La Sirena De Pecera (K, 2000) collects old and unreleased tracks.

Witchcraft Rebellion (K, 2001) continues DeDionyso's adventurous journey through the genres. The band's skills at composing musical structures out of pure chaos have greatly improved and some of the songs actually sound like... songs. One is mesmerized to hear how the ebullient, feverish cacophony of Mystery Language actually translates into a sort of uplifting square dance, and how the the samples, the dissonances and the sheer nonsense of The Book Of Life And Crime turn into a beautifully crafted instrumental. Most of the credit actually goes to the fantastic rhythm section of Phil Elverun (drums) and Aaron Hartman (bass).
The album even boasts relatively sane compositions such as Vampire Sushi, a psychotic voodoobilly replete with swamp beat and surf guitar, and King Of Nothing, a rockabilly number that would make Elvis Presley commit suicide. On the other hand, there is little the band can do to control the absolute folly of Two Crows and Treasure Map.
In order to leave no stone unturned and to top the demented standard of the album, DeDionyso also delights listeners with his trademark saxophone solos, notably in Cuneform, Mercury Snake, the two-minute sonata of Fermentatic and the grotesque jam of Witchcraft Rebellion. Enough to make generations of jazz players turn in their graves. Hats off to a real genius.

The Arrington DeDionyso Quartet was an Italian-American quartet that released The Album (Wallace, 2003).

Old Time Relijun's Varieties of Religious Experience (K, 2003) collects rarities.

Lost Light (K, 2004), featuring new drummer Rives Elliot, is indeed a religious concept album, but one can hardly tell from the music. The trio sculpts inspirational hymns out of demonic sounds, although the foundations are much less seismic than they used to be. The method is now stronger than the madness. The Rising Water The Blinding Light, The Door I Came Through Has Been Closed and Music of the Spheres span a large spectrum of moods, rhythms and storytelling styles (down to none). The eight-minute Cold Water tells the story at so many levels (literal, sonic, implicit, narrative construction, metaphorical) that one could use it for a class on semiotics.

2012 (K, 2005) is inevitably "one too many" albums of the same idea. Burial Mound captures the listener's attention for a few minutes, but the other songs tend to appear and disappear hardly making any impression. Since OTR do not exactly sell millions of copies of their CDs, one wonders why they need to release one when they have not yet assembled enough good material.

By the time they recorded Catharsis in Crisis (2007), Old Time Relijun had become even predictable.

Arrington DeDionyso had already released solo cassettes like Bobcatflamethroat (1993) and Orga Ar (1994). He ventured into free-jazz improvisation with the 31-minute piece of Abraxasaxophonic - Smooth Jazz Vagina (2000), followed by the combo improvisation of Creation Music Volume One & Two (2001) on which he played bass clarinet and contra-alto clarinet assisted by guitar, piano, violin, contrabass and drums, and by the duets of Psicolomagicolo (2005) with pianist Nusch Werchowska. After the solo albums Breath of Fire (K, 2006), an album for throat singing, bass clarinet and jaw harp recorded on Christmas Day in southern Italy, and The True Folk Sound (2006), he concocted Yamaneko Improvisations Or The Dogs Of Matsuyama (2007) with Tori Kudo and the Low Clarinet Duos (2009) with Paul Hoskin. He recorded several albums with pianist Thollem McDonas: Intuition, Science and Sex (2008), Songs Of Psychic Fire Vol 1 (2011), and Saturn Returns (2017), recorded in 2004. After the solo I See Beyond The Black Sun (2008), he formed the band Malaikat Dan Singa (2009), which sounds like Captain Beefheart jamming with a gamelan ensemble, and the band later released Suara Naga (2011), Open the Crown (2012), that featured Nehemiah Danger on bass and organ, Markly Morrison on organ and keyboards, Ben Kapp on drums and Angelo Spencer on quarter-tone guitar and echoplex, and Honey and Poison (2019), originally recorded in 2013.

Music For Two Tape Recorders (2009) consists of two cassettes intended to be played at the same time. Trance Music Of East Java (2011) couples his bass clarinet with Indonesian combos for lengthy improvisations. An entire album was devoted to improvisations with an esemble named Singo Budoyo (2014).

Snowstorm Ragas (2013) contains duets between him on throat singing and on bromiophone (a home-made contrabass clarinet) with tabla player Ravi Padmanabha. The Book of Angels (2013) was a collaboration with Graeme Smith on amplified pedal harp. The cassette Lovers and Dragons (2014) contains a 49-minute improvisation for clarinet and exotic instruments with drummer Gal Lazer Shiloach. The Lalove Of Central Sulawesi (2014) contains music for the bamboo flute of Sulawesi. Sound Is The Medicine (2015) contains two lengthy improvisations, one for the Lalove bamboo flute and one for the Siberian jew's harp khomuz. Blood Moon Raga (2015) features Oomung Varma on tabla and Nathan Gibson on synthesizer. Aroma Kahayan (2017) was a collaboration with electronic musician Theo Nugraha. He also recorded several albums devoted to Indonesian gamelan music.

Shouting Over Deep Water Blues (2019) contains solos for bromiophone recorded on a boat in the middle of the ocean. This Mouth Drum is my Dragon (2020) contains improvisations for Siberian khomus and voice. Lungs (2020) mainly contains the 29-minute Lungs - The Exorcism. He launched a new project titled Ayahuasca Tasting Room (2020). This Mouthdrum Is My Dragon (2020) is also an album of free improvisation. The flood of releases during the covid pandemic included The Dragon Raga (2020) and Trance Music For Crows - Samhain (2020). Trust the Drum (2021) is an album of shamanic drumming.

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