Three Corpse Piledriver


Where extreme metal meets noise, Three Corpse Piledriver plants a flag: what else could experimental improvised music be? Saxophonist Drew Ceccato makes the first shot across the bow, pushing a kaleidoscopic frenzy of harmonics and squeals first through his horn, and then through an overdriven guitar amp. In all my foraging, I have never encountered a saxophone sound like this. At moments (like track 11) it evokes a circuit-bent synth toy about to smoke and fry, but much of the time the timbre is simply without reference point–simultaneously a plaintive human cry and a wailing feedback. Bassist Kyle Motl turns up the gain too, eliciting not only intensity and sustain, but also the opportunity to slow down and wallow in the musical possibilities of these sonics. The fleet-fingered tapping and rich bass chords shimmer and groan coming out of the amplifier, as though the distortion pedal is hesitating, wondering, “Can one push modernist harmonies like these through me?”

Putu Hiranmayena, a whirlwind behind the kit, is the scion of a Balinese gamelan dynasty; he drums with and teaches these metallophone orchestras around the US and across the globe. But Hiranmayena grew up in Colorado a skateboarder and serious metalhead. He calls the most intense of Balinese gamelan music the “metal of the gods”–an apt description, since the gongs in such ensembles are considered quasi-deities with close ties to the Balinese temples where these instruments are traditionally kept. So, interspersed with a storm of blastbeats, the few tracks that manage to persist beyond a few seconds take on a hypnotic, even peaceful quality. There’s a reverence for noise here, a seriousness about its somatic and psychic effects.

Lots of very short tracks here, in the manner of both grindcore and John Zorn’s Naked City, yet this is neither an attempt to do grindcore with wrong instruments, nor a mere genre reference. Three Corpse Piledriver melds two toolkits, but the sum is greater than its parts. They split ears and quake bodies in search of unknown abrasions in the enveloping sound of extreme metal, and find within it new, regenerative possibilities for high-energy improvised music. Loudness as an assault not on the listener but on habit and convention. Violence in the service of discovery.

–The Risky Forager

Drew Ceccato: saxophones
Kyle Motl: bass
Putu Tangkas Hiranmayena: Drums

All music by Ceccato, Motl, and Hiranmayena ©2014

Recorded October 31, 2014 in the Conrad Prebys Music Center at UC San Diego
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Kyle Motl

Album Art by Darren Smith