Music review – Ask the Oracle: S/T
Ask the Oracle’s self-titled album really pushes the boundaries of jazz and improvisation. The bulk of the album is utterly dissonant, strange, chaotic, and unorganized.
The first two tracks are the most coherent and accessible on the album. “Surfing to Canada” and “Ass Gamelan” both have a very interesting combination of upright bass lines and percussion with harmonized sax melodies and individual solos layered over top. After these two songs, the album starts to become weird and then evolves into utter musical chaos.
The improvisation on this album, while technically very proficient, is a disaster. Ask the Oracle is a cautionary tale of narcissism taking over musicians; the instrumentalists are basically shouting, “Hey! Hey look at me! Look what I can play! No, don’t pay attention to what anyone else is playing! Check out what I’m doing!” The result is extreme confusion and musical disjunction.
Trying to be as kind as possible, the listener attempts to pay equal attention to everyone playing, but this only angers the instrumentalists, who want the full and undivided attention of the listener, leading to tracks like “Why is the Devil Here” and “Curse of the Horns,” which sound like a big band is right pissed off and screaming at you. Ask the Oracle finishes off as if the band is trying to annoy you, and they want you to leave the room as promptly as possible.