Absolute Zero: Never Acquiescent
“ Absolute Zero is also a tribute to the perseverance of musicians who have followed their ideals through good times and bad...when less hardy souls would have called it a day. ”
It seems unlikely that certain types of music will ever be popular, although there are times when they come close. Rock music has always maintained a coterie of fringe musicians who have maintained their interest in creating a unique musical vision instead of acquiescing to the current style, idiom or fashion. Absolute Zero fit into that mold.
Rock music has long been plagued by a disdain of intellectualism and instrumental technique that did not really become institutionalized until the mid-1970's. As a matter of fact, the late 1960s through the mid-1970s did show signs of public acceptance of long pieces of music, complicated harmonies and an experimental spirit. There were warning signs in the late 1960s however-when the complexity of the music of somebody like Frank Zappa became too much, along came Creedence Clearwater Revival and Grand Funk Railroad. When people like Mike Oldfield, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and Jethro Tull threatened to become too popular, there arose Aerosmith and Bachman Turner Overdrive. The final blow against complicated rock came in the mid-1970's however, when the punk/new wave movement rose to the surface. Backed and endorsed by journalists, anything that was more than three chords was instantly confined to the scrap heap. Groups who mimicked the Velvet Underground were okay, as long as the rhythm sections weren't overly ambitious, and the triumph of stupid, instrumentally-limited rock was completethe advent of MTV completed the triumph of style over substance, because to be on MTV (after the initial unintended creative spurt of the early years) one had to be photogenic, pretty/handsome, and not too brightthe correct equation for the BMOC/head cheerleader popularity favored by the 1980's.
In the early 1990's, rays of hope started peaking through. Groups that had lain dormant (Coliseum, various Hatfield and the North incarnations, Gong, and many others) started re-emerging from the dust bins of history, performing again. Even the newer acts seemed somewhat experimental; some of the work of groups like Soundgarden harkened back to the earlier experimentalism of groups like Pink Floyd, the Mothers, and the Thirteenth Floor Elevators. Groups like Amon Duul II, Faust and Captain Beefheart started drawing more attention.
But there were groups that were not so fortunate in the first round, such as Absolute Zero. Absolute Zero is an experimental, aggressive group of multi-instrumentalists who have gone through multiple personnel changes since the late 1970s in pursuit of developing a unique sound based upon the early influences of Soft Machine, Miles Davis, Jack Bruce, Daevid Allen, Magma, Matching Mole, King Crimson (circa 1973), free jazz, avant-garde classical music, Rock-in-Opposition musicians and many others.
The genesis of the group is unique. The original mastermind of the group and its founding member, is a unique and powerful bassist name Enrique Jardines. Enrique, an American of Cuban descent, became enamored of music by hearing a recording of Jack Bruce playing bass with Cream ("Spoonful") and resolved to play that instrument. He soon secured a Gibson EB-3 (the same bass that Jack Bruce played) and started working with a long series of band in his home area of Western Massachusetts. His attempts to develop a group among friends in the Springfield, MA area ended in disappointment (although the group was musically very far ahead of its time, gaining notice from luminaries like Archie Shepp), but he resolved to study music more aggressively and eventually acquired a Master's degree in composition from the Conservatory at Brooklyn College. Enrique also studied with Bill Connors, the original electric guitarist in Chick Corea's fusion group Return to Forever.
He also worked on his networking skills and journeyed to the UK where he met many of the musicians he admired so much, including Canterbury icons Dave Stewart, Caravan (with whom he auditioned as bassist, unsuccessfully), and more importantly for his later history, the late keyboard genius Alan Gowen, drummer Pip Pyle, and guitarist Phil Miller, among others. Alan and Enrique hit it off remarkably well, and, according to Pip Pyle, Alan loved Enrique's compositions and asked him to stay with him in the UK. They were just about ready to start a group when, sadly, Alan Gowen became ill with leukemia and passed away soon after.