Thursday, November 5, 2009

Secondary Deviations review from Paris Transatlantic

Here is a review of digital download recording available on Ayler Records:

There's an art to selecting a lead-off cut for an album, and "Welcome Steps" probably wasn't the best choice, but once the disjointed individual tempos have melded into a dog-chasing-its-tail frenzy, it gets a lot more appealing, culminating in guttural blasts from alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs and the braying trumpet of Forbes Graham. The other pieces here are much more convincing. Jacob William plays the syncopated bass line of "Palm Dance" with such insistence throughout its 13 minutes that when he finally drops out for a drum solo by Croix Galipault (who begins the track with woodblock and light cymbal taps, working gradually up to fevered press-rolls) you feel the absence. Hobbs and Graham's exchanges over this potent rhythmic brew are consistently inventive: Graham, in particular, has a Steve Lacy-like tendency to repeatedly deconstruct his own lines, though at other times his playing has a brashness recalling Lester Bowie. "Rishi Dance" is 22 minutes long yet keeps interest from flagging by varying its motifs constantly, and is anchored by William's two beautiful bass solos at its centre. "Upload Method" features harshly percussive playing by the altoist, while the rest of the group alternately works in tandem with him or in counterpoint. On the brief, sprinting "Repetition" the horns play near-parallel lines that converge sporadically on extended unisons, with the rhythm section clearing the way; it makes for a thrilling conclusion to the record.
So who do these guys sound like? An immediate point of comparison would be a contemporary group like the Empty Cage Quartet, but (though perhaps it's excessively high praise) I'm most consistently reminded of early Art Ensemble recordings collected in the Nessa box, way before they added "of Chicago" to their name. Plus, if the liners didn't indicate otherwise, I could believe this was recorded in somebody's basement.–SG

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