Not Two, 2014 | MW 919-2 | CD
Recorded 12.12.2012 at Seizures Palace, Brooklyn NY. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Jason LaFarge. All compositions Dikeman, Stadhouders, Govaert. Cover photo by Ewa Truszkowska. Cover design by Malgorzata Lipinska.
Tracklist: 1. 0:14 [00:14] 2. Will to Power [11:27] 3. Drones [06:16] 4. Fetzer [07:14] 5. Difference and Repetition [00:23] 6. Fuck you Nash [08:33] 7. One for Roy [04:59] 8. Fourth Wind [05:18] 9. 0:06 [00:06]
In late 2012, CACTUS TRUCK
stormed America in the name of skronk. Though I wasn’t there to see them in person, I was rooting from the comfort of my own room, keeping updated via regular social media dispatches and feeling, somewhat inappropriately, the way I imagine Mission Control must feel when their rockets reach the stratosphere.
Their thirty-seven date, two month long tour of the United States had seen the band perform in galleries, barns, living rooms and probably every other kind of social gathering known to man. Watching them from afar, I had the feeling that these guys were gathering steam at every turn, rather than getting drained by the sheer energy required to keep such a monster of a tour going. Perhaps it was the heavy company they some-times kept – Jeb Bishop, Tim Dahl and the late, great Roy Campbell, to name some – but this recording doesn’t sound anything like a band worn out by life on the road. Still. it was made directly after their thirty-sixth performance, somewhere far past midnight, after consuming enough coffee and whiskey to reboot the musicians’ weary minds. Knowing this, it is no wonder that this is music with its balls firmly on the line.
John always speaks of honesty as his main goal in playing the saxophone. I don’t think I can think of a better description of what CACTUS TRUCK is all about. Will to Power, the first lengthy piece of the album starts with the sort of energy most players never even reach at the end of a performance and continues onwards from there, leaving none of the guys a place to hide from each other or themselves. However, as with all good free players, the music is more than just an onslaught of sound and there is plenty of room for detail in this performance. After considerable bursts of energy, with Jasper (bass) and Onno (drums) dropping out, John is propelled into the eye of the storm, where he testifies like a man possessed. His Aylerian screams are eventually answered by Jasper’s strikingly postmodern no-wave sensibility on guitar, making this music at once new and old, though it seems so inevitable it might as well have been around since the beginning of time.
A similar marriage of dissonant garage rock and fire music characterises Drones. where John switches his tenor for alto and reaches straight for stratospheric overtones. Though Jasper ploughs his guitar rather than play it, he is an intense listener, following John’s every step and often answering with equally ferocious energy. His derailing solos, consisting of trembling slabs of sound rather than of notes, are one of the main joys of a CACTUS TRUCK performance. I am particularly struck by his extended soliloquy on Fetzer, which takes up half of the piece and eventually crumbles into the void. The piece has a special significance to the band. as it is dedicated to David Fetzer, a friend of the group who passed away too soon and who is described by John as ‘one of those unbelievably talented people that was just so good at everything he did, yet so genuinely and earnestly likeable that you couldn’t even hate him for being too good.
One for Roy bears another dedication. this time to the late Roy Campbell, who was one of the great trumpet players of the jazz community and who had just performed with CACTUS TRUCK during their American tour before he died. Both this piece and Fetzer have a slight elegiaic feel to them, though to call them tranquil would be a mistake. Rather, they burn with the type of passion that one reserves for the fond but painful memory of a recently lost friend.
Fuck you Nash, on the other hand, is the sort of balls-out interplay that we’ve come to expect of CACTUS TRUCK. Of particular note is the opening drums solo, a masterful clattering of drums that picks up in intensity until the rest of the band drops in and elevates it to an even higher plain. Sax and drums seem to be at war with one another, leaving Jasper to create a bed of noise in which John’s screams and Onno’s rattles can truly fester. Though the piece boils with intensity, there is again some tranquility in the onslaught during the brief respite from the relentless drumming. This is however short-lived, as Onno firmly establishes why he is considered one of the master percussionists emerging from the Netherlands right now.
Fourth Wind again sees some of Jasper’s electric bass playing – an instrument on which he is as conversant as on the guitar for which he is more wellknown. His playing here is surprisingly conventional, at times following what can almost be considered a regular bass line, whilst John seems to be delving slightly deeper into his melodic baggage than he normally does, working on phrases for some time before letting them slip into a mighty growl. Onno, meanwhile, does his most masterful impression of a pair of sneakers in the washing machine, sounding at once rhythmic and all over the place.
It stands as testimony to CACTUS TRUCK that relatively young musicians of such ability are fully dedicated to making music like this, which is difficult, engaging, heart-felt, obsessive, aggressive and above all, deeply honest. As a dedicated fan, I can only hope that they will continue to rampage all that comes before them, obliterating all false musics and scorching the earth behind them for all those who lack the passion needed to truly listen. Their intensity is truly inspiring. — SYBREN RENEMA
Based in Amsterdam
this fire-breathing improvisational trio is comprised of bassist/guitarist Jasper Stadhouders, drummer Onno Govaert, and American-born saxophonist John Dikeman. The band plays a take-no-prisoners, high-energy brand of free jazz strongly influenced by the likes of Albert Ayler and Peter Brötzmann at their most intense (they also claim that their music includes elements of Delta blues, Japanese noise, and no wave). Cactus Truck self-released an eponymous CD-R in 2011 and followed that up with a 2012 cassette release (featuring Terrie Ex from the Ex) entitled Macho Sex; their first “official” album, Brand New for China!, arrived in March of 2012 on the Public Eyesore label. In late October through mid-December of that year, Cactus Truck stormed the United States with a massive 37-date tour that saw the trio tearing it up across the country, up the East Coast from Atlanta to Boston, across the Midwest and West, down the West Coast from Seattle to Los Angeles, and finally wending their way back east for three final dates in New York City. Selections from the tour (recorded at Squidco Records in Wilmington, Delaware with guest trombonist Jeb Bishop; Astro Black Records in Louisville, Kentucky; and the final show at JACK in N.Y.C. with guest trumpeter Roy Campbell) were featured on the Live in USA album, released in March 2013 by the band’s Tractata Records imprint in collaboration with the eh? label. — Dave Lynch, AllMusic
(2.3.83, Rushville, NE, USA) is an American saxophonist currently residing in Amsterdam. Drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources, John’s playing runs the gamut of improvised music and technique. John has performed extensively in the Netherlands and USA as well as Canada, Brasil, Russia and throughout Europe and the Middle East.
John grew up in Wyoming and started performing professionally at the age of 16. Dikeman left Wyoming in 1999 to study saxophone and composition at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy. John later attended Bennington College in Vermont to study with Milford Graves while at the same time studying privately with the late Joe Maneri. After Bennington, John moved to Boston, then New York City and Philadelphia. While on the east coast John performed extensively with many of the top musicians from the USA including Nate Wooley, Mike Pride, Daniel Carter, Tatsuya Nakatani, etc… In 2004 Dikeman moved to Cairo, Egypt where he worked full time as a professional musician and educator, leading numerous ensembles as well as freelancing in a wide range of settings that included performing as a soloist for the Cairo Symphony Orchestra and being a long term member of the band of Nubian pop star Mohamed Mounir. After Egypt, John moved briefly to Budapest, Hungary, then Paris, France and finally settled in Amsterdam in 2008.
Since moving to Amsterdam, Dikeman has performed with Joe McPhee, Jeb Bishop, Han Bennink, members of The Ex, Roy Campbell, Ab Baars, and many others. John has been very active in the Dutch improvised music scene as both a performer and curator. John was selected for the 2012 Young VIP tour which featured the trio Cactus Truck plus guests on tour throughout the Netherlands. John was invited to join Stichting Doek as a core artistic member in 2012. In the fall of 2012 Cactus Truck completed a 37 concert tour of the USA. Their performance at Zebulon in New York City earned them a place on Andrey Henkin’s list of Best Concerts of 2012 for the New York City Jazz Record.
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