People keep sending me music stuff in the mail. I admit, it’s kind of groovy getting a package delivered to the Middle of Nowhere here. It’s especially far out getting stuff from people you thought had fallen off the face of the earth.
Iconoclast has spent the last 25 years or so consistently falling between the genre cracks of Western Music. Neither fish nor fowl, they do their own thing on a consistent basis. That enough people get what they do is a small miracle in itself. You can pick out bits of jazz, orchestral bits from the past three centuries, speed metal, kitsch exploitation soundtrack music, and all sorts of stuff in their musical make-up if you’re clever. Mainly though, they do inner film music: the sort of private soundtrack your head plays back to you when faced with certain adrenaline-charged situations – pro AND con - in life.
Don’t believe me? Read the titles of Naked Rapture, the group’s tenth – and latest recording: How Fast Is Evil?, Fragile Summer, No Time to feel Good, The Ruin of the Pure. Don’t deny it, I saw you in my mind’s eye, you were at those movies, wearing a trenchcoat. So was I…
The group works in a foreshortened duo format. Julie Joslyn plays saxophone, percussive violin, percussive percussion, and horror-inflected vocals. Sometimes she uses live electronics to doctor the results. Sometimes she just lets go pure, naked sound.
Leo Ciesa is the other half of the act. Imagine a hard-hitting, free-flowing “free jazz” drummer, unconstrained by the niceties of key and chorus structure. Then imagine said musico going all out PUNK on you. Rashied Ali, as raised by speedmetal wolves. He sings rubby chorus pieces occasionally and effectively, too: far more convincingly than Tom Waits ever did (does?). He also tinkles the keys when the occasion calls for it. This speaks well of him.
Both of them write their own material.
I first saw them in November of 1990 in a loft on the now-trendy James Street North strip. Hamilton Artist Inc. put on the show for all 15 of us gathered, and I was suitably impressed. They were a smart drink before the term existed and they had physical oomph, which set them apart from the majority of the loft generation.
Naked Rapture is the name of their new recording, their tenth in more than 25 years. It has all those titles I mentioned before, plus 18 other big and small (the duo has a way with short - one minute and under - pieces) Iconoclast hits, plus their renditions of Night in Tunisia and The Revolutionary Etude. Neither Dizzy Gillespie or Chopin could be reached for comment, but I feel safe in saying the authors never imagined their work done up like that. Get it here