Live records recorded in a bustling venue can be incredibly taxing as some of the finite sounds and movements might be lost in the crowd. With Albert Ayler’s Prophecy, the record stands more on the principle of how sound from a crowd can increase the emotional draw to the performances while ushering in a new level of passion behind the production.
To be put frankly, Prophecy is a record with rhythmic intangibility to the point where the listener is desperately searching for a following bassline. Trailing a release in 1975 for the first time after an 11-year hiatus, Ayler recruits a consistent level of locomotive motion from his tenor saxophone. He recruits Gary Peacock on the bass who is as frantic as possible and also Sonny Murray on drums to form somewhat of a backbone to the band. This ensemble is rapid, at times harsh, but shows immense stamina to being able to crush a 41-minute recorded set with little interaction among the crowd. The entire process is never bogged down and is an experimental jazz lover’s wet dream until the very end of the five-track record.
Each blitz of sound coming from Prophecy is discovered time and time again as the noise of the record continues to blast through the speakers, transporting the listener into a crowed jazz bar of the 1960s. At this time, Ayler would be performing on the steps of avant-garde expressionism through his tenor saxophone, where harmony is distant and seems off course primarily. The silver lining comes more from the way that he can use the band to make a three-pillar hydra of unbalanced proportions.
The tracks on Prophecy are long, reaching an average of seven-minutes and above. While tracks pile on and continue to shift from each other, Ayler and his band are marching through the mountain. They show no breaks within their music and it truly is a dedicated performance to just noise. The freeform used on Prophecy is disturbing at times as the pounding instruments will cut through subtlety like a sharpened blade, slicing the ears into thin ribbons.
Through the loose framework, the stance on free formalities, and sound from all angles, Prophecy is more similar to a haunted house than a jazz record. It pops from random corners to unleash a wave of unexpected and unantiquated fear from 1964. As the shadows seem to close in on the listener, Ayler and his band show brute strength in a hostile performance that never saw a mainstream day.