Death Don't Have No Mercy
EXCLAIM (Canada) Destination Out: Year in Review 2006 Death Don't Have No Mercy (Resonantmusic) Former Martha and the Muffins saxophonist Andy Haas had a busy year, releasing three excellent discs; Death Don't Have No Mercy is the strongest and most affecting. Haas takes on various wind instruments while Fiorino coaxes some strange stringed sounds from his arsenal. Haas is one of the most adept electronic manipulators around; his electronics aren't the usual delay plus harmonizer settings, they act as a third lead instrument summing up both players contributions within a fearsome landscape. Songs on this album are positively chilling, with tunes sounding like the aural equivalent of crime scenes. And this disc is a disturbing rumination on violence and culture clashes. Haas and Fiorino have crafted a powerful anti-war statement without using any words. Age old slices of Americana like "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and the national anthem itself gain poignancy with the juxtaposition of American-identified instruments (dobro, fife) with "foreign" ones (Korean piri, North African lotar) suggesting an uneasy but fascinating coexistence of different worlds. David Dacks ALL ABOUT JAZZ NEW YORK Death Don't Have No Mercy Andy Haas/Don Fiorino | Resonantmusic (2005) By Florence Wetzel John Lennon once said that the world is run by insane people for insane purposes. So what's an ordinary citizen to do? One response is to make music, and Death Don't Have No Mercy is a clear response to the current insanity-namely the shameful war America is waging in Iraq. Good, we need more protest music. Best of all, this is an extraordinary recording, a stimulating blend of sounds and cultures fueled by great passion. Part of what makes the disc special is the instrumentation. Andy Haas plays saxophone, piri (Korean woodwind), fife, and live electronics, and Don Fiorino plays guitar, lotar (Moroccan lute), banjo, and dobro. Each of the songs features just two of the instruments, in combinations ranging from guitar and sax to the more exotic dobro and piri. Weaving throughout are electronics, played by Haas with originality and vision. The duo is to be commended for seamlessly combining such apparently disparate instruments. Of the twelve cuts, the three that strike deepest are renditions of traditional American war songs: "Anthem" is a version of the National Anthem, "Hymn" is a version of the "Marines' Hymn," and "Come Marching Home" is based on "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." Haas and Fiorino turn these songs on their heads, the familiar melodies deconstructed into soundscapes of disturbing beauty. Particularly moving is "Come Marching Home," where Haas' sax is so evocative it's chilling. Other standouts include "Ashes in the Sand," a gorgeous meditation that combines a mesmerizing lotar with sax and electronics, and the spare, haunting "Blood of Words." The disc wraps up with "Que Será, Será," featuring a gentle guitar with sax and electronics. The song, where a child muses on his fate as an adult, can perhaps be heard as a poignant comment on the scores of Iraqi and American soldiers whose fates have surely taken turns they never envisioned or wanted. This is genuinely exciting music with a rewarding wealth of sounds and ideas. And by interweaving traditional American war songs with others that evoke war's pain and futility, Haas and Fiorino are making a point. As the quote on the cover says, "Is it any comfort to know that the tanks murdering in my name are digging a grave for my people as well?" THE WIRE issue 259 September 2005 Andy Haas & Don Fiorino Death Don't Have No Mercy Resonantmusic 001 Reviewed by Julian Cowley Extricated from the ranks of downtown New York improvising freewheelers The Hanuman Sextet, saxophonist Haas and guitarist Fiorino trace exhilarating lines of flight across extensively tilled musical ground. In addition to electric guitar, Fiorino exploits the rootsy connotations of the dobro, banjo, and lotar, a North African lute; Haas adds fife and piri, an Oriental reed. Original material is in this way coloured with allusion and tinged with hints of various traditions. Inherited material, including the title song, the American national anthem, a hymn by Offenbach and "Que Sera Sera", is stretched into unfamiliar shapes and granted an alternative identity. Haas enhances both variants and evocations with subtle fluxions of live electronics. Diverting music.