Andy Haas / Don Fiorino Death Don't Have No Mercy

One of the biggest disappointments of last year was the Liberation Music Orchestra’s weak-willed war protest Not in Our Name. Its sleepy tempos and politely ironic takes on tunes like "This Is Not America” and "Amazing Grace” did a great disservice to their incendiary protest music from 1969. Death Don't Have No Mercy is merciless in using its sonic inventiveness to achieve biting social commentary. All tunes are duets between former Martha and the Muffins horns-man Haas and stringed instrumentalist Fiorino. Each plays a variety of instruments, while Haas always brings spontaneous electronic manipulation to the table. Fiorino does strange things to a dobro, producing crystalline notes and menacing scrapes at the same time. Haas is as lyrical as he has to be on his wind instruments, and paints in the rest electronically. The opener, "Anomolous Behavior” sees the sax blast out one note at a time, as the effects wash over it and Fiorino’s tense dobro to create a dub texture of knife sharpening sounds. Haas’ electronics aren’t the usual delay plus harmoniser settings, they act as a third lead instrument summing up both players contributions within a fearsome landscape. The deconstruction of patriotic standbys like "Johnny Comes Marching Home,” and a very abstract American "Anthem” are not only great jumping off points into free improv, but actually gain poignancy with the juxtaposition of American-identified instruments (dobro, fife) with "foreign” ones (Korean piri, North African lotar) suggesting an uneasy coexistence. Haas and Fiorino have produced a moving piece of work. (Revenant)