Ruins of America
EXCLAIM! (Canada) September 2008 Destination Out - Experimental & Avant Garde Reviews Andy Haas - The Ruins Of America By David Dacks Former Martha and the Muffins sax player Andy Haas has lived in New York for two decades. He's been an active participant in the improvising flank of post-no-wave musicians. Haas was under-recorded until a few years ago but The Ruins of America marks his fifth album in the last three years. This time, he flies solo on wind instruments and live electronics, unaccompanied by any rhythm elements. Haas's electronically processed soprano sax, Korean piri and fife represent some of the most dynamic and interactive use of augmented acoustic sources in the world today. But these are no unstructured improvisations - everything is grounded in Haas's twisted yet faithful takes on traditional Americana. Classic tunes by Irving Berlin, Antonio Carlos Jobim and others are forced through extreme harmonization and delay settings, yet there is always faithfulness to the source material. This is brilliantly displayed in the four-part title track, which fillets 'America The Beautiful.' America may be beautiful but it's terrifying and grotesque as well. As with all his work, Haas's knowledge of Asian techniques and harmonies adds more than just ironic overtones to these resolutely American songs. Haas forces globalization and modernity on these songs of the fading giant. The Ruins of America - Andy Haas Signal to Noise Magazine review Fall 2008 Ask most people about 'protest music' and I'll bet they think of Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, and Buffy Sainte-Marie, or just maybe the politicized punk rock of Crass, the Ex, and Dead Kennedys. But protest music has a substantial history in jazz and improv, too. Charles Mingus's 'Fables of Faubus' and Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra come immediately to mind. Add to the list the work of saxophonist/multi-winds player Andy Haas, once with Canadian new wave combo Martha and the Muffins and most recently heard with Fred Frith. The Ruins of America is no doubt Haas's statement on, well, the state of things (no point in pummeling a deceased stallion here). Yet Ruins isn't merely another round of America-bashing - instead it feels like a bereaved lament or threnody for the American Dream, lost, strayed or stolen. 'Accompanying' himself with live electronics and loops, Haas turns in a recital of choicely sardonic covers ('America the Beautiful', 'I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire', 'Let's Face the Music and Dance'), his tuneful improvisations given mournful, exaggerated, and/or pointedly, jaggedly dissonant twists and mutations, a la Jimi Hendrix's poignant Woodstock performance of 'The Star-Spangled Banner'. On soprano sax, Haas has an achingly bittersweet tone touched with the cry of the blues (without being at all hammy about it, either). Elsewhere, his winds squeal, snap, and chitter-chatter like Carl Stalling's Warner Bros. Cartoon music gone berserk. At times, Haas evokes the sound-collages from the Mothers of Invention's Verve albums. This album proffers a fine Election Year catharsis, and I've a feeling we're gonna need one. Mark Keresman Time Out New York October 23 - 30, 2008 Radio I-Ching member Andy Haas plays in support of his new solo effort, The Ruins of America, on which he overdubs and electronically processes his probing reed and fife work, resulting in detailed sonic sculptures that range from the luminous to the ominous. The disc is one of the more memorable experimental releases we've heard in some time. Jazz Times review November 2008 Saxophonist Andy Haas, a former member of Martha and the Muffins and collaborator with such downtown icons as John Zorn, Marc Ribot, Zeena Parkins, and Ikue Mori, works with ambient loops and electronic noise as a textural backdrop on this experimental offering, a follow-up to his 2007 protest record, Humanitarian War. Included are highly provocative renditions of "America the Beautiful", Irving Berlin's "Let's Face the Music and Dance" and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "A Felicidade". Bill Milkowski from Chain DLK, June 13, 2009 Andy Haas, past sax player for Toronto band Martha and the Muffins, and afterward avant-garde NY artist regales us with 15 tracks of processed sax, fife, electronics and prepared loops centered around the theme of a ruined America using the hymn "Materna" as a foundation. It all sounds a bit spooky and sad which probably gives us insight to his political leanings. Lament and mourning are all well and good but sooner or later you have to get over it and start making things better. I see this as part of the mourning process. Regardless of all the talk this is a highly imaginative sonic journey using all kinds of recording tricks to create a specific sound bed for each track. Review by: John Gore.