Anyone fired up by the likes of Brotzmann or Vandermark and isn't averse to the odd...
Peter Marsh 2005-01-10
Though Mats Gustafsson has been a presence on the European free jazz/improv scene for some time now, the last couple of years have seen him achieve a slightly higher profile through his work with Sonic Youth and fellow saxophonist Ken Vandermark, among others.
Despite playing in a wide variety of contexts, Gustafsson has increasingly moved in the direction of high energy playing. Along with Vandermark he's proved himself as one of the few players with the lungs to compete with the likes of Peter Brotzmann. The Thing Trio unites him with the ubiquitous and brilliant rhythm section of Paal Nilsson-Love and Ingebrigt Haker Flaten; this is their third album but its release has been preceded by the release of that rarest of artefacts, a 7" single.
And it's that single that kicks proceedings off. "Art Star", originally penned by New York art punks The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is a volatile cocktail of bouncy riffing and free jazz thrash. Gustaffson bellows through his horn with an intensity few (if any) electric guitarists could manage; forget Cream, this is what a power trio should be like. They repeat the trick with a White Stripes cover ("Aluminium") and a tune from 60s garage outfit The Sonics, but none of it comes off as clever or post-modern jokey; these boys like their riffs and they know a good one when they hear it. More importantly, the sheer power they generate from wood, metal, breath and muscle is stunning. Check "Aluminium"; Haker Flaten's distended opening thrums signal a whole pile of warped blues thrashing that'll leave you exhausted.
As well as these art punk gems,the trio cover Norman Howard (once Albert Ayler's trumpeter) and Peter Brotzmann, and throw in a few improvisations for good measure.The multi-limbed intensities of the closing title track are almost too much to take in as bass, drums and horn indulge in a heated exchange of rhythmic detonations, screams and flurries.
Anyone fired up by the likes of Brotzmann or Vandermark and isn't averse to the odd spot of art rock will find much to chew onhere. It'd be nice to think that White Stripes fans might feel the same....