Gesundheit with Raising the Fawn, Resonators, Skywave (Virginia), The Creeping Nobodies and DJ the Band at the Wavelength anniversary party, Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Sunday (February 10). Pwyc. 416-532-1598.
the first time i heard gesund- heit, at their Lee's Palace CD release party last November, I pretended I was blindfolded and happily allowed myself to be enveloped by their beautiful Melvinsesque bludgeoning.But I wondered, "How do they get a wounded dinosaur to wail along in time with them?"
It wasn't what I'd call singing, but it was inspired by that most divine of elements, the human breath. A moment later the breath became vocal, guttural, like Sepultura's Max Cavalera on Roots. The guitars were very huge, very heavy, but the double kick-drumming was much more subtle -- more effective -- than the usual excessive pummelling of metal drummers.
Blindfold removed, I saw costumed performers. The dinosaur was an amped, pedalled trumpet in the hands of a shirtless man in leather pants and a mask. The song ended. "Danke," the horn wielder yelled, and a moment later he counted in the next song in equally aggressive German.
Gesundheit's mouthpiece and visionary, Brian Cram, is the man behind the mask, but in today's interview he refers to himself in the third person as Kram. In conversation, he likes to make big statements in short forms.
What's with the Teutonic shtick?
"German to Kram means liberal discipline. The sound of the language is aggressive self-confidence," he intones.
This makes me realize that a lot of the German metal I've heard had English lyrics, which leads me to Kram's comment about the global village: "Everywhere for all time is your backyard."
Gesundheit is the stepchild of many parents -- blues and heavy 70s rock and contemporary bands like Montreal's Gorguts, the kind that take metal beyond the simplicity of sheer volume and speed to the ever-evolving jazz tradition of creative ensemble playing.
Their powerful CD, Asinus Ad Lyram, which recalls the jam-outs of Cleveland's Keelhaul and the power of sax man David S. Ware, was released late last year and is now facing worldwide distro by a French record company.
Guitarists Miss Adventure, Don Picolo and Gatsby and drummers Jimmy P. Lightning and Pig make up the band along with the Neon Kobra and someone called Jessifer. Various of these players also work with the Co-operators, Bluebird, GUH, Do Make Say Think, Someone Is Flying, the Strap, Drummer and other bands.
The code names exemplify the strong element of theatre Gesundheit bring to the stage. They're not just musicians -- they're characters; hence, too, the use of the third person.
As Kram tells me, "Live shows have always influenced Kram more than recorded music," and he sees himself as "an ancient, mummified, decomposing warrior exclaiming simple, timeless fictions."
Prior to Gesundheit's conception, Kram was Metal Man, a solo busker with his trumpet hooked up to some pedals and a battery amp. He tells me about attempting to play transcribed metal standards at an open stage.
"Mayhem ensued," he admits. "A man came at Metal Man onstage and verbally assaulted his "misuse' of the trumpet.'"
Gesundheit play the Wavelength anniversary party Sunday (February 10) at Lee's Palace, and a compressed version of the band squeeze into Planet Kensington for a month of Thursdays beginning February 28.