Peter Brötzmann Octet - Machine Gun LP
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Machine Gun's release, but it's still just as shocking and powerful a record as ever, a stunning and bewildering listen from beginning to end. Peter Brotzmann's second release as a leader, this was the album that firmly established his voice as a performer and an improviser, defined what would become the FMP aesthetic, and truly distinguished European free-music from its American counterpart.
Machine Gun opens with a deafening blast of pure sound, a pummeling broadside of Brotzmann, Evan Parker, and Willem Breuker's saxophones. Even today, so many years after this was captured to tape, it's still startling, and still brings to question any ideas you might have about what could be considered "jazz." Yes, American fire music players had broken countless barriers earlier in the 1960s, but nobody had ever really sounded like this before. Noise artists for generations to come would give everything to be half this abrasive.
Machine Gun is not all volume, though: there are passages of silence and chilling hints of space between barrages of instrumental fury. There are even hummable themes, however brief they may be. One of two drummers in the group, Han Bennink loudly declares his intent to push free percussion in a direction unique from his American counterparts, Murray, Graves, and Ali. The octet is rounded out by several other players who would form the foundation of the European free avant-garde: Fred Van Hove, Peter Kowald, Sven Ake-Johansson, and Buschi Niebergall.
Originally released on Brotzmann's own Brö imprint, Cien Fuegos has remastered the original album and lovingly presented it here on this limited, 180 gram reissue. If there is one Peter Brotzmann record to own, this is it; if there is one European free jazz record to own, this it.
A1 Machine Gun
B2 Music For Han Bennink
Recorded May 1968 at "Lila Eule", Bremen
Peter Brötzmann: baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone
Peter Kowald: acoustic bass
Buschi Niebergall: acoustic bass
Sven-Ake Johansson: drums
Han Bennink: drums
Fred Van Hove: piano
Evan Parker: tenor saxophone
Willem Breuker: tenor saxophone