Not many jazz drummers would record an album of free improvisations with a guitarist from a political ethno-punk rock band -- but Han Bennink is, of course, no ordinary jazz drummer. I've seen him play: the guy's a brilliant madman, full of zany, unpredictable antics yet he's always visceral, powerful and above all, musical, in a manner that suggests a gene-splicing experiment aimed at crossing Chico Marx and Milford Graves. I've seen The Ex perform, too: their approach suggests an anything-goes, passionate mix of 1977-era Clash, Captain Beefheart, The Fall and the Balkan folk of Marta Sebestyen.
The Laughing Owl is an album of 17 short tracks of (I assume) free improvisations by these fellows. Needless to say, those looking for "conventional" frames-of-reference won't find them here. This is more along the lines of the sounds made by Derek Bailey and the group of British (w/ the frequent American or 2) free-improv gang Company. In other words, delightfully ripping, fractured, organic, good-humored, wild-&-wooly, wonderfully chaotic (sounding?) noise...and I mean that in a good way! Bennink is always making with The Rhythm (abstract & playful, yes, but it's there); Terrie Ex's guitar - perhaps because of his "rock" background - is raw, earthy and visceral, avoiding the dry, ponderous "cerebral" sound that some free-improvisors fall prey to.