Letter to The Wire, December 2011

In The Wire 332 you printed a letter from me, pointing out the existence of a second Peter Brötzmann documentary, Brötzmann, as well as the Soldier of the Road DVD featured in The Wire 331. My observation seems to have fallen on deaf ears, since David Keenan’s review (On Screen, The Wire 333) again fails to mention Brötzmann. More to the point, the review makes a few bizarre sideswipes alongside its acute remarks on Brötzmann’s status as an internationalist figure.

Keenan may not like the Full Blast trio, but the fact remains that since 2004 Peter has toured more regularly with this line-up than any other, so clearly he must see something in it that David doesn’t. For my money, the Full Blast rhythm section of Marino Pliakas and Michael Wertmüller is a thing of awesome power and range, shepherding Brötzmann away from jazz and towards some kind of free-noise take on speed metal. Swing isn’t part of the equation.

Elsewhere in the review, the idea that the Die Like A Dog quartet, which hasn’t played together since 1999, is “the fulcrum of [Brötzmann’s] back catalogue” is as strange as the claim that none of the other configurations included in the film (namely the Chicago Tentet and the all-reeds trio Sonore) is “quintessentially Brötzmann”. Indeed, the notion that there is a quintessential Brötzmann at all seems strangely at odds with Keenan’s spot-on identification of the inscrutability of the man’s art.

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