No Luck, No Happiness

While listening to Randy Woolf’s new release, I read Scott Johnson’s brief liner essay on the obliteration of genre—the sort of sonic no-man’s-land he argues Woolf is working in. How does that distort (or not distort, depending on how you look at it) the way the listener comprehends a piece of music? So I take my headphones off and then put them back on, all while trying to trick myself into believing that I don’t know what disc is already in my stereo. I am hoping just to listen to the sounds without knowing that this is “new music” by a “trained composer” and all, baggage. On No Luck, No Happiness, this listening strategy works especially well. Woolf himself does the honors at the turntable, scratching his way over samples of Rachid Taha’s Barra Barra, with violinist Todd Reynolds laying down an aggressive line in something of a transnational Roma fiddle style that’s tasty like icing. Taha’s track did its part to conjure the madness of war in the film version of Black Hawk Down, and Woolf and Reynolds captures a similar violent energy here.


—MS