...a long way from standard issue free improv...
Peter Marsh 2006-12-20
Avid followers of the European free improv scene will possibly recognise the names of guitarist Ivar Grydeland, bassist Tonny Klutten and percussionist Ingar Zach, collectively known as Huntsville. But though they've worked with everyone from Tony Oxley to Sunny Murray to Derek Bailey, "For The Middle Class" is a long way from standard issue free improv. Which is not a bad thing.
Huntsville operate in the same kind of territory that Austro-American trio Trapist do. There are tonal centres, spacey grooves, airy drones and flickers of electronic crackle. Grydeland's steel guitar offers doleful, sketchy melodies that hint at the sweet ache of country music. He even allows himself some to indulge in some minimalist banjo pickin' on one track. Elsewhere his acoustic guitar playing is as much John Renbourn as Derek Bailey. Klutten's bass purrs its way warmly through the proceedings, while Zach's loose-limbed drumming and lo-fi loops occupy some kind of mid-ground between Tony Oxley and Can's Jaki Liebezeit.
As with Trapist, it's hard to say how much of this music is a result of planning, intuition or post production. But it doesn't matter; two long tracks ("The Appearance of a Wise Child" and "Add a Key of Humanity") are testament to the trio's ability to generate involving, evocative music that's genuinely emotionally engaging as well as pressing all the right buttons for those on the lookout for new sonic thrills. Beautiful.