penguin guide

The Penguin Guide to Jazz On CD, 5th Edition
Bruce Eisenbeil guitar

*** Nine Wings CIMP 144
Eisenbeil; Rob Brown (as); Lou Grassi (d). 3/97

***(*) MURAL CIMP 194
Eisenbeil; J Brunka (b); Ryan Sawyer (d). 2/99

Eisenbeil sounds like a wild man in spite of himself. He plays unadorned electric guitar, without effects or accoutrements, in a simple open tone that’s bent into service as an avant-garde instrument. With the peripatetic Brown, something of a free-playing veteran by now, and the tinkering Grassi, he leads the trio through eight compositions (and one brief improv) that break down structure into bloody three-way confrontations. “Hermitage of Xhzeng Xhzu” and “Mercury” are especially all out. Brown’s experience comes to the fore and he makes light of his exposed position, but Eisenbeil is arguably the more interesting performer since he tries to reconcile his melodicism with playing out.
The CIMP no-tricks sound isn’t much help on this occasion, but it has certainly been tweaked for the second album, which is an arresting panel of soundscapes, shaped round two long tracks,”Caesar” and “Woman With A Handful Of Rain”. Sawyer’s fast-decay cymbal sound is a key element, but Eisenbeil himself has broadened his range of articulations, and he creates a new vocabulary of “natural” effects which broadens and deepens the musical discourse considerably.

- Richard Cook & Brian Morton 2000