On March 15th Doyle Dean (drums) Jerod Sommerfeldt (computer) and Stephen Bird (bass) aka Jerod Stephen Doyle stepped into a studio to record a number of improvised songs which more or less fall somewhere between avant-garde experimental and free jazz. The songs on their self-titled album Jerod Stephen Doyle is the antithesis of pop music and doesn’t contain any recognizable hooks, choruses or anything else you might be able to sing along to. If there is any enjoyment to be had from this album it comes from the nuances and sometimes unpredictable changes that occur throughout the journey.
As you might expect these songs are largely hit and miss. Some moments feel self-serving as if they are going nowhere and other times the trio finds inspiration. The first track “Minutes from the Campus Meeting” finds mild success. You are greeted with a dry, clean bass tone and a crisp drum sound, which doesn’t change throughout the remainder of the album.
The band dabbles around for the first couple of minutes trying to find their footing. As the song progresses there isn’t much of anything that provides any emotional resonance. The computer gurgles like a discontent circuit board and the bass and drums provide some energy but not much of anything else.
Speaking of energy there is really none to be had on “Mukbang Broadcast.” The song sounds like something a band might do before launching into a song or something that fans of John Cage minimalist pieces might enjoy. Luckily, the trio's best work is still ahead of them. “Broad to Missouri” is one of the more captivating tracks on the album. The bass and drums provide the foundation here for Sommerfeldt to go off of. I enjoyed the panning effects on the electronic sounds even if they were too loud in the mix.
“b. August 24, 1922” is one of the most experimental pieces on the album which is covered in a dark, ominous mist. Sommerfeldt takes the reins here and eventually arrives at a computer overload at around five minutes in. I can’t say much about the minimalist piece “We Call it Mud Season (Because it's Mud Season) other then you might like it if you can go into an art gallery and interpret the white notebook paper as something meaningful.
The album ends with “Shed Petrol, Enjoyed” and “Memoranda” which are two of the strongest songs of the album. “Shed Petrol, Enjoyed” is particularly engaging and finds the trio building on a kinetic vibe that had me invested. The bass line and steady drums play in the pocket while the electric elements are strategically placed.
For a one-day session that was improvised Jerod Stephen Doyle is an impressive piece of work. The three members obviously have some innate chemistry. I wonder what an album of theirs would sound like that was planned and implemented over a couple of months?
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