Playing free jazz or free improv can easily be compared to walking on a tightrope. If you put one step too far to one side, you're gone into into the depths, and that's what I think happened with the music on this album. John Butcher (sax) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums) are fine musicians with a long track record in free form music, but this CD is to me over the edge. OK, they can get the most unusual sounds out of their instruments, and their interaction speed and interplay are great, but where is the music, where is the emotion? Playing these sounds may be fun for the musicians themselves, but as a listener you don't get involved. Still, kudos of the Clean Feed label to take the risk of publishing this kind of music. I hope others enjoy it more than I do.
Russ Lossing, Mat Maneri, Mark Dresser - Metal Rat (Clean Feed, 2007) ****
Equally risky and equally free improv and equally on Clean Feed, is "Metal Rat", an album by pianist Russ Lossing, with Mat Maneri on viola and Mark Dresser on bass. This music is unusual, to say the least, with eery soundscapes, creating a gloomy, menacing atmosphere throughout. The major difference between this album and the previous one, is that this one creates music, even if not an easy listening experience, it has vision, it paints an aural canvas, albeit an abstract one, that is adventurous, that absorbs the listener in something new, something exciting, with interesting twists and turns, offering unexpected angles. This music sucks you into a different world, pointillistic and microtonal, without allowing the listener to get grip on any fixed pattern or rhythm, yet the overall sound image you get is worth listening to.
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