Jonathan Kane raises the brow with rhythmic blues 

Minimalism never sounded so blissful as Jet Ear Party

Jonathan Kane holds a strange musical pedigree. His drumming on the first Swans record Filth shaped the antagonistic scrape of American industrial rock throughout the ’80s, but he fancies himself a bluesman.

“I like music that swings,” he says. “Music that obsesses on a theme and builds to a point of the ecstatic is what I aspire to, and it’s what moves me.”

Kane also spent time playing drums with minimalist composers Rhys Chatham and La Monte Young’s Forever Bad Blues Band, Young’s marriage of blues riffs and minimalist composition. Although low-brow blues and the high concepts of minimalism are seemingly disparate, with his second solo album Jet Ear Party (Table of the Elements), Kane delves into the DNA of what makes them so much alike. “Pick up any Mississippi Fred McDowell record or most John Lee Hooker records and you hear driving riffs, hypnotic grooves and a scintillating riff. That’s minimalism,” he adds. “It’s about the same droning riff and infinite pattern that you get even in a La Monte Young piece.”

Throughout songs, such as, “Gripped,” “Blissed Out Rag” and “Roller Coaster,” angelic patterns build amid a barrage of gruff tonal textures that embody the heritage of Chicago-style electric blues. The lack of a tangible focal point draws the tension in each number into rising action that builds with exuberance and demands a physical response.

“To me there are a few different paths to reaching the trance state for both performer and audience,” Kane says. “One is through a meditative, cerebral approach. The other is through the body, the dervish approach, as it were. That's what I'm after, and my preferred vehicle is a rhythmic foundation associated with blues, R&B and jazz. That is, to me, the kind of music that first hits you from the waist down and works its way up to your brain afterwards.”


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