Guerilla Toss, on their eponymous Tzadik CD release, is like one of those baseball cards from the seventies, where you look at it one way, and you see the player; but then you turn it in the sunlight, and you see the image of the crowds in the stadium. You can hear the band one way, like noise and mud and vomit, unbearable to the ears. Then, you listen again, and you hear the complexity and lyricism of new music, or even Berg or Stravinsky. Some of the progressions have the haunting dance of *The Rite of Spring*, and there’s an interplay to the members, glamor-guy bassist Simon, cutie/wild girl singer Kassie, deft, dapper, and understated guitar player Arian, hero of heroin survival drummer/leader Peter Negroponte, and Ian Kovac, synth guy, who keeps it together like a classy carpenter – well, it’s like watching an exciting baseball play in extra innings, a last-minute double play or a suicide squeeze.
I think of Zeul groups, like Japan’s The Ruins, or Magma from France, the commune group who speak their own language of the name. It’s like prog, kind of, but more with a free jazz base than 19th century European romanticism, like Yes or ELP. Sometimes it’s as scary as watching carpenter ants eat your house. Sometimes it’s as good as your tough friend at school beating up the bully. It can be as primitive as slash-and-burn agriculture, or as advanced as linear algebra.
I got into Guerilla Toss because they are such infectious, kind people, and they create a scene wherever they play, one that transcends the music like a mushroom cloud transcends a nuclear bomb. But I stayed with them, through the unnerving first couple of listens to the album, and it’s as beautiful as the flowers after the atom storm. I just hope it’s healthy, instead of killing me. I think it is. I feel better already, and I still have half the album to go tonight.