This stunning 3LP live set is a highly conceptual and idealised version of what some of Berkley's most stunning avant garde artists decided rock and roll could be, taking the form and stretching it long form. What you get is an almost eurphoric mix of Stevie Nicks or Jonie Mitchel vocal hooks, stunning jazz and rock horn and piano interplay, working itself into a raga-like repetition which they draw out for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. It's absolutely sublime.
Except: by 1976, the idea of a capitalized “New Music” had increasingly lost its punch for Tyranny and Gordon. Rock and Roll, likewise, was nearing an apparent generational expiration. The way out of this impasse was trust in rock, which was both description and command. Rock, for this all-star cast of Bay Area heads, became a perpetual revolution that could be serious, playful, polemic, focused, technical, and lovely. And you can hear it in the music: Tyranny’s songs swing from intimate and profound to blissful and joyous, with solos on saxophone, piano, synthesizer, and electric guitar over interlocking rhythmic and melodic cells; an ecstatic performance of Gordon’s “Machomusic” gives a single pitch the real Rock’n’Roll treatment; and Acker’s lyrics on “God’s a Man,” “When Baby Gets Wet,” and “Cloves and Cinnamon” pulse with transgressive sexual energy. This is neither New Music nor Rock as anybody had previously understood those terms, but something else entirely—a kind of transcendent synthesis that audibly reveled in its newfound energy.
On Trust in Rock, Tyranny, Gordon, and their band played at, with, and through not only the generic boundaries of New Music and Rock, but also the stylistic boundaries of minimalism, jam bands, and punk. Tyranny had quit Iggy Pop’s band in 1973; Gordon had already moved to New York and began playing with Arthur Russell and Rhys Chatham. That night in the University Art Museum, playing saxophones and and synthesizers, they were not afraid to trust in rock to get them where they needed to be. This was a band that was not afraid to “listen to the interior state of something,” as Tyranny later put it: they put their trust in rock, and this album lets us hear what happened.