Saturday, September 10, 2011

Brotzmann / Kondo / Pupillo / Nilssen-Love - Hairy Bones

Devotees of modern free jazz whose main icon is represented by Last Exit — the quartet of Peter Brotzmann, Bill Laswell, Sonny Sharrock and Ronald Shannon Jackson which repeatedly set the cognoscenti's brain on fire (or, at least, mine...) — could give a try to this, the recording of a performance at Amsterdam's Bimhuis dated September 6, 2008, which features a joint venture between the old guard of Brotzmann himself (alto & tenor sax, Bb clarinet, tarogato) and Kondo (electric trumpet) and younger turks Pupillo (electric bass) and Nilssen-Love (drums).

The record is divided in two extended sections that leave no room for unnecessary reflection, although those who expect a total free-for-all might remain a tad disconcerted, given that the artists not only fuel the activist anger of self-expression with (rather disciplined) fury, but also find the time to reduce the impact of their drive along "calmer" explorations of the partial combination of instrumental voices and dynamics, at times remaining moderately exposed as two or three elements interact. For example, an interesting Pupillo vs. Kondo colloquy in the title track is sandwiched in the muscular antagonism of the group as a whole, and a groovy solo by Nilssen-Love — as distant from the boring percussive marathons of certain "progressive" bands as you can wish — is followed by the drummer depicting shades against the disagreeing stubbornness of Brotzmann, soon aided by the echoing blathering of Kondo until the improvisation reaches its natural demise.

"Chain Dogs" begins with a tense "dissonant lyricism", reed and trumpet emitting pensive notes upon the rhythm section's increasingly mounting inner energy, yet it doesn't take much before the foursome soar again through impatiently clumped rhythmical disorders, aggravating the dynamic conflict by the minute, Brotzmann emitting autistic ostinatos amidst fuming devastations by Pupillo and Nilssen-Love, Kondo attributing a spacey vibe to the jumble via modified reverberations of his tool. The music gradually becomes a cross of intimidation and unalterable faith in some sort of divine light leading the sonic splodge out of potential holes, as what appears tempestuous at first reveals instead a logic of coherence which facilitates the approach to the listening experience, and the quieter sections hide nonetheless the peril of a venomous sting.

Forget the cerebral aspects and be overwhelmed by the threatening physicality of this set. Hairy Bones is a classic case of "play-loud-neighbors-be-damned" outing, an exhibition of conspicuous skill in the thick of apparent mayhem.

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