The flow of brilliant and busy ideas is unstoppable and breathtaking.
Sid Smith 2009-11-06
Although they’ve only been going since 2006, this Leeds-based outfit make music with such confidence that it’s impossible not to be enthralled by the way they interlace squawking, raucous gluts of improvised mayhem with drop-dead dynamics.
Not withstanding the odd guttural utterance here and there, Christophe de Bezenac (sax), Chris Sharkey (guitar) and Chris Bussey (drums) combine forces to deliver one the most powerful albums of instrumental music released in 2009. Notionally a jazz record, it owes just as much to the dynamics of rock, classical experimentalism and the take-no-prisoners attitude of punk for much of its 40 minutes.
The opening track, Returns, compares well to Battles’ prog-centric rifferama, but seems just as close to the some of the eye-watering assaults contained on Back Door’s equally precocious 1972 debut, with de Bezenac’s caustic parps occasionally invoking the spirit of the late, great, Ron Aspery. Mostly though, as on Rash – an outbreak of compacted electronic expletives colliding with raw angst-filled yelps – he sounds as though he’s sight-reading a Jackson Pollock painting.
In amongst the frenetic free-form zeal, Bussey’s drumming possesses a crisp meticulousness of the kind that Henry Cow’s Chris Culter used to specialise in. It’s Bussey’s combination of calculated fusillades and outbursts of huge, bulldozing grooves which are in some respects the trio’s secret weapon, giving what is admittedly ‘difficult’ music a surprisingly accessible face.
Throughout the album, Sharkey squeezes all manner of shades and effects from his guitar, dabbing each piece with irreverent squiggles of interlocking melody, punch-drunk power chords and galloping lines that owe little in the way of allegiance to the usual jazz guitar suspects. Coupled with Bussey and de Bezenac’s maverick inclinations, the resulting flow of brilliant and busy ideas are unstoppable as they are breathtaking.