Somnambule - Writing About Music

Last Exit ~ Köln

Last Exit were the band to end all bands, a superstar quartet that long preceded John Zorn’s similarly audacious Naked City. Heavy as lead, Last Exit came on like a herd of crazed elephants. Their all too brief trajectory was mercurial – if such an adjective can be applied to the arc of a mortar shell. Probably named for Hubert Selby’s grim tale of hopelessness, the group married collective improvisation to the dirtiest of stomping, crashing blues. Köln was the group’s second release. It’s an extended, highly articulate scream broken occasionally by Shannon Jackson’s unexpected hollers and underpinned by a dark, brooding funk worthy of Miles Davis’s Dark Magus (which is perhaps its best reference). Köln was the second of the group’s six albums, all but one were live recordings, the exception being the relatively lacklustre Iron Path. If you think The Thing or Scorch Trio exercise a monopoly on the visceral, go listen to Köln. Utterly cathartic.
Colin Buttimer
October 2005
Published by Jazzwise magazine