Roadburn 2018 – 002 Ex Eye
There seems to be a lot of “super-grouping” going around these days – and definitely not the least at Roadburn. Which is why it would come as no surprise that a group conisisting of such musical luminaries as Greg Fox, Colin Stetson, Shahzad Ismaily and Toby Summerfield would find its way to this festival.
Let’s get that supergroup thing out of the way before deliving any deeper into the entity that’s Ex Eye. Basically, there are 3 kinds of supergroups – those that seem like a great idea in a marketing plan (but hardly ever are), those that are simply a way to have fun and/or do a limited, specific thing (and they can be great fun both for the artists and the audience). And then there are those consisting of great musical minds gravitating towards each other by means of invisible magnetic forces. For and with a purpose.
Ex Eye are definitely one of the latter kind.
Decidedly hard to categorize, and in parts of the music press therefore described as the sum of their (admittedly different) musical parts – in my view that’s only part of the picture… perhaps the part that begins with the decision to get things on and ends just before they enter a studio intent on creating their musc.
The thing about the “sum of their parts” argument is, it tends to point in the direction of some kind of scientific musical lego. I’m thinking a process where the outcome is exactly as imagined, producing a result that’s a very precise rendering of the blueprint. Which is more or less exactly what Ex Eye are not.
Their sole album to date (a selftitled juggernaut released in the summer of 2017) is busting wide open with ideas, pointing in quite a lot of different directions – and still seeming to be able to stand out as a cohesive whole, gathering or collecting all these different strands into an instance of… something completely new.
EX EYE – “Xenolith; The Anvil” (Official Music Video) ‘Ex Eye’ is out now on CD/LP/Digital via Relapse Records Order Here: http://bit.ly/Ex-Eye Subscribe to Relapse Records Channel: http://bit.ly/RelapseYouTube Directed by Derrick Belcham Order on Bandcamp: https://exeyeband.bandcamp.com Order on iTunes: http://geni.us/ExEyeiT Order on Amazon: http://geni.us/ExEyeAMZ Order on Google Play: http://geni.us/ExEyeGP Official Links: Ex Eye on Bandcamp: http://exeyeband.bandcamp.com Ex Eye on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ExEye http://www.relapse.com http://www.facebook.com/relapserecords http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com http://www.twitter.com/relapserecords https://www.instagram.com/relapserecords Debut album from EX EYE, the instrumental, post-everything quartet led by renowned saxophonist Colin Stetson and featuring the otherworldly drumming of Greg Fox.
In a way, this is a return to the sentiments of early progressive rock (or, indeed early anything new that would eventually go on to become a genre). The idea of “go with it, let’s see where it takes us”. And in fact, there should be a lot for fans of early prog to latch onto with Ex Eye. Wild, interesting instrumentation, at times drawn out parts that seems to vibrate with emotion, weird breaks and changes.
But Ex Eye are definitely not content to simply make some kind of progressive rock. They seem intent on breaking down any kind of categorizing boxes, blow open the whole playing field, to really be able to express true, unfiltered emotion through their musc.
Drawing on inspiration from both improvisational jazz, ambient drone, doom, and definitely black metal, they end up with a result that is more in the vein of post-postrock. It’s music that is forever reaching towards the sky, expanding and deeply expressive.
And a large part of that is how the musicians interact with each other, how Greg Fox lays down a foundation that’s both steady as a rock and at the same time ingeniously playful and searching, how Stetson and Ismaily plays off each other (like in that truly amazing intro to Form Constant; the Grid. In fact, the only ego that seems to be involved is the one that drives each member to be the best he can be for the collective musical expression.
June 28, 2017 – Ex Eye performs live at The Echo, Echo Park, Los Angeles, California. https://www.facebook.com/ExEye/ https://exeyeband.bandcamp.com/ http://relapse.com/ex-eye/ Members: Colin Stetson, Greg Fox, Shahzad Ismaily, Toby Summerfield
It’s also music that’s truly inspiring to watch, as the live clip above will testify (granted, even before this, I could probably watch Greg Fox play forever), the interplay, how each of them loses himself in the music.
So, everyone should prepare themselves for a quite special musical experience once Ex Eye sets 013 on fire, turning the venue into an insanely rotating and twisting room.