Bruce Lamont holds a prominent place in the realm of jazz metal, and has been incorporating sax sounds into heavy music since Chicago-based Yakuza formed in 1999. I fell in love with his no-six-string avant-garde metal project Brain Tentacles, so when I was offered the opportunity to review Lamont’s sophomore solo album, I happily accepted. His previous solo album, Feral Songs for the Epic Decline (2011), was more ambient, mournful, and lonely than this second take, which is downright creepy in some places and filled with discordant yearning in others.
Broken Limbs Excite No Pity is a cohesive collection of seven songs which flow so seamlessly into one another that I had a hard time discerning where one ended and the next began. The album is highly textured and dramatic, and Lamont uses multiple layers of noise, diverse electronic effects, and strange saxophone sounds to achieve this. Every sound on the album is his own, which includes multiple part vocal harmonies, guitar, percussion, electronics, and, of course, saxophone.
The opening epic “Excite No Pity” is the longest song on the album at ten and a half minutes and sets the stage by building tension through the whole venture. Sirens and horns elicit an image of a dreary cityscape. The saxophone struggles against the current of traffic as the tension builds to terrific levels. Distant shouts penetrate the searing electronic noise but are inevitably dragged under, and our journey begins. The second track, “8-9-3” begins with a crash and a jangle as keys accentuate the patter of water dripping, giving the impression our hero has awoken in a strange and dreary place. Low droning melodies, pained cries, eldritch moans, and schizophrenic sax are layered on top, descending over the hush of impending doom. The gloom breaks at the end with clean keys lifting the mood, transitioning perfectly into “Maclean,” a contrastingly brighter song with acoustic strings and soulful vocals distorted to sound as if they traveled through time and space from another dimension. Eldritch moans begin again and mellow out to tribal chanting, as Lamont harmonizes with himself, and we find ourselves on the desert plains.
The core piece of the album, “Goodbye Electric Sunday” features surf rock guitar dragged through the gravel, coarse sung-spoken poetry, and a wordless, moaned chorus. The quickly strummed guitar backing gives the composition a spaghetti Western vibe, reiterating the theme of traveling across the American West. This song would be perfect if Tarantino did a horror horror movie; it sounds like “Miserlou” for vampires. “Neither Spare Nor Dispose” plunges us back into eerie soundscapes — the final showdown. Chairs creak and the screen porch door slams as a storm rolls carrying with it thunder and possibly something more dire. “The Crystal Effect” is a complete noisescape which reveals what the storm clouds brought to the desert: the drone of swarming insects and saxophone buzzing in your ear. The treble drops out and we’re left with a receding rumble. “Moonlight and the Sea” closes the album with clean strings and high-pitched noise accents under vocals that warble as if Lamont is singing from a submarine. It is a final, lonely lament as our perspective reaches the Pacific coast and sails away on midnight water under a full moon.
This isn’t an album that ever expects to get radio play; it is an adventure through the high plains, and our drifter is pursued by the stuff of nightmares. Rather than a collection of songs, Broken Limbs Excite No Pity is musical odyssey that ranges from eerie and desolate to unhinged and cacophonous, with a low key, cool interlude and a melancholy, reflective conclusion. It is truly a unique listening experience that inhabits the less frequented genres of avant garde metal and experimental jazz.