Gray: electric bass
Confounding expectations, Chicago's BRISE-GLACE recall vanguard rock groups such as Can and This Heat, but speak through contemporary teeth.
Brise-Glace is a band with a strange pedigree, bringing a diverse, and at times startling vocabulary to play. This is Jim O'Rourke's baby, his take on a "rock band". A lot has been said about the process of building "when In Vanitas...", maybe too much, but the process is fascinating. After recording the stuff of the songs, the band is subjected to Jim's razor blade splice, which he wields virtuosically. The methodology may recall Holger Czukay or Faust, but Thymme Jones' grovin' beats and the recomposer's fondness for radio static result in something more like a bare-knuckled brawl between John Bonham and Brian Eno. Something interesting and unidentifiable is happening at nearly every moment, and the context of how these moments relate means as much as the individual moments themselves. A dirt-clouded pool of very quiet, nearly subliminal, noise eddies for a few minutes, is taken over by Thymme's clipped, distorted drumming and Darin's inquisitive bass lines, then the whole resolves itself back into ripples of atonal and arrhythmic sound. A wealth of details are whistling and hissing deep within each track.
Brise-Glace don't play it safe, deconstructing the functions of rock music, while unquestionably performing as a rock band.
line up of Brise Glace includes the ubiquitous Jim O'Rourke, guests Christoph
Heemann (of German experimentalists HNAS) and improv-guitar master Henry
Kaiser, alongside members of Illusion Of Safety and Dazzling Killmen (and
with Steve Albini in the engineer's chair for this particular project),
this should give some indication of the deviant direction of When In Vanitas.
Of course there are precedents: the stark eeriness of the first This Heat
album (on the track "Host Of Latecomers" Thymme Jones's drumming is clearly
influenced by Charles Hayward); Holger Czukay's theory of musical economy
(the notes you don't play are as important as the ones which you do - hence
avoiding overelaboration and unnecessary ornamentation); and the cut and
pasted methodology of Faust. That said, this is the most intriguing rock
music of the 90's thus far".
-- John Everall, The Wire, Feb '95
Born in 1969, American post-classical composer Jim O'Rourke has been a key component in the increasing overlap of the American and European experimental music avant-garde, working in everything from jazz and rock to ambient and electro-acoustic and building many a bridge in between. A Chicago native, his work has found equal truck with experimental jazz and noise fanatics, chill room denizens, and bedroom experimentalists, and has had the resultant effect of cross-pollinating many otherwise isolated compositional communities.
Dealing most often with prepared guitar in improvisational group settings, Jim has also released a fair bit of material as a soloist, although more often in the electro acoustic/musique concrete vein. He's collaborated with such contemporary improv heroes as Derek Bailey, Henry Kaiser, Eddie Prevost and Keith Rowe (of English improv group AMM), KK Null, David Jackman (Organum), and early Krautrock experimentalists Faust. Beginning with guitar at the age of six, it wasn't until his collegiate career at DePaul University that O'Rourke's interest in the less obvious possibilities of the instrument led him through the early catalogs of the post-classical and electro-acoustic traditions.
While at DePaul, Jim completed much of the work that would constitute his first few releases. He also had the opportunity to meet up with noted improvisational guitarist Derek Bailey, whose invitation to play at the British improv festival Company Week led to further collaborative projects with Bailey, Henry Kaiser, Eddie Prevost, and David Jackman. In Chicago, Jim began working with Dan Burke's Illusion of Safety project in the early '90s, releasing three albums through Staalplaat and Tesco. It was here that Jim met drummer Thymme Jones (see the Cheer Accident page for more info).
Darin Gray befriended Jim when the two met at a performance by Darin's post hardcore band Dazzling Killmen and soon after Brise-Glace was put into motion. Thymme was enlisted on drums and Dylan Posa, then of Chicago's perennial jazz favorites, The Flying Luttenbachers completed the core group. At the same time Jim joined David Grubbs in Gastr Del Sol.
Brise-Glace recorded one album and a single for SKiN GRAFT in the mid-90's. They also made unique contributions to the AC/DC tribute series SIDES 1 4 and the Camp Skin Graft cd. The band toured the East as part of the SkiN GRAFT irritational tour, performed a festival in the Netherlands and played a spattering of live events around Chicago. Later live shows deviated from the core group, consisting of Jim and Darin and guests such as Kevin Drumm and Azita Youseffi (The Scissor Girls). Shortly after the release of "when in Vanitas...", brise-glace returned to Steve Albini's studio, this time to record under the name Yona-Kit, with Zeni-Geva's Kazuyuki K. Null (see the Yona-Kit page for details).
Brise-Glace eventually dissolved and though they've never officially "broken up", future recordings do not seem to be in the foreseeable future, though the members all continue to perform with each other under various incarnations. Jim and Darin play together often, with Darin regularly appearing on Jim's solo releases. Dylan Posa joined Thymme's "steady" rock band, Cheer-Accident, shortly after Brise-Glace became inactive. But certainly, the acorn nearest the tree would be Thymme and Darin's anti-band, You Fantastic! Together with guitarist Tim Garrigan of Dazzling Killmen, the trio build upon the foundation set by "when In Vanitas..." but develop the neighborhood in ways uniquely their own.
written in part by
Sean Cooper/ All Music Guide
"In Sisters... "
GR#15 7" & comic
GR#25 2 x 7" & comic
"Camp Skin Graft"