The Sorrow and the Pity get subversive on How Many Is That?

The Sorrow and the Pity
How Many Is That? (Soldier Pumps)

Take Sunny Murray’s free-jazz drum stylings, mutate ’em through hardcore punk, slather ’em with Albert Ayler–esque saxophone bleats, and subordinate the whole thing to manic faux-loony rants involving castration, the binary nature of doughnuts, and the evils of the “system”. (And the support system that supports it, and the support system that supports the support system, and the support system support system support system that supports the support system support system, which, no shit, is a lyrical theme explored at length here.)

You then have a pretty good idea of what to expect from improv-punk ironists the Sorrow and the Pity, though you’ll still be missing key references to humiliation, persecution, the Heimlich manoeuvre, the cleansing of window blinds, and Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. These guys—saxophonist Darren S. Williams and drummer/vocalist Dave R. Bastard—are as fun as spiked punch live, but this particular record is pushing the envelope of actual psychic disturbance, with Mr. Bastard’s lyrical rants pacing frustrated ruts of such circularity that you start to feel a bit trapped. Which is probably the desired effect; call it protest music for obsessive-compulsives. But, I gotta confess, it kind of hurts my head.