Imagine for a moment, if you will, two conservatory-educated musicians who have forsaken their training and tutelage in order to pursue the reckless adventurism of surfing sine-waves from another dimension. This is essentially the story of Grasshopper and its two members, Jesse DeRosa and Josh Millrod, who have cultivated their dual-trumpeted noise-infested attack since 2006.
On Miles in the Sky, these two produce together sheets of sound built on trumpet play that is on the one hand reminiscent of Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew (hence the album’s title and cover) but also of Rhys Chatham or other No Wave elements. It is all then filtered through screaming electronic filters to devastating effect.
Consisting of one track per side, the highlight of Miles in the Sky comes at the beginning of Side B’s “I Sang a Sad Song Today.” Here a sample from a reading of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach is used as an intro. This gentle playful beginning quickly gives way to a sonic assault that then carries on for close to 10 minutes before collapsing into a swollen trumpet riff surrounded by walls of noise. A really breathtaking sequence that you can preview for yourself with the Soundcloud link above.
While Miles in the Sky originally appeared in a very limited tour-only cassette run back in 2009 on Baked Tapes (a label run by Grasshopper member Jesse DeRosa) Buffalo-based label House of Alchemy wisely put together a re-issue of the Brooklyn duo’s stellar tape this past year. And even though deciding whether or not to do a re-issue can sometimes be a tricky decision for micro-labels like HoA, re-releasing this Grasshopper cassette had to be a no brainer. Some re-issues often fall flat once made more widely available outside of the original context they were created in. With Miles in the Sky, however, getting re-introduced into circulation has only increased the notoriety surrounding this tape and the duo that created it.
Review by Taylor Waite