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Peter Brotzmann The Fat Is Gone Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

You should run towards it. It's bracing and thoroughly enjoyable.

Nick Reynolds 2008

Saxophonist Peter Brottzman is a legend of free jazz and improvised music. His 1966 album Machine Gun is still regarded as a benchmark in a genre where the cliché ''sonic assault'' is high phrase. In recent years Brotzmann has worked with larger groups but this set recorded live in Norway in 2006 finds him in the company of two musicians from Scandinavian trio, The Thing. Mats Gustafsson on baritone sax is more than a match for Brotzmann himself while Paal Nilssen-Love is a supremely confident percussionist.

Bullets Through Rain starts, as improv sets often do, with a head-on attack. It sounds like a grotesque childrens' party from hell, or being charged by a pack of rogue elephants. Nilssen-Love batters his kit viciously while Gustafsson and Brotzmann blast and shriek in a wild cacophony for nine minutes. Colours In Action begins ominously quietly with an uncoiling line of sax melody. In twenty eight minutes it moves through tearing, squawking noise, lyrical moments with bass clarinet and uncompromising ensemble racket. The Fat Is Gone is if, anything, more extreme, full of holes, squeaks, splutters, agonising climaxes, and some rather lovely playing in the middle.

Brotzmann plays like a guerrilla determined to knock down walls by sheer stamina, fearless experimentation and astounding technique. But the walls stayed up and improv's political agenda was diluted long ago. Now it's just another style choice, a chamber music for the liberal bourgeoisie. What's left is intense, physical sound. You either run away as fast as you can screaming ''help!''. Or you run as fast as you can towards it, shouting ''come to daddy!''.

You should run towards it. It's bracing and thoroughly enjoyable.

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