Click here to [close]

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Matt Nelson - Lower Bottoms (Tubapede Records, 2014) ****

By Paul Acquaro

One may think, from titles of the tracks on saxophonist Matt Nelson's solo recording Lower Bottoms that he's a bit a jaded .... 'Sunk Cost', 'Sworn Enemies', 'Motor Mouth' and 'To Believe in What' all seem a bit, well, down. However, good to know that Nelson seems to be a master of subterfuge - not only are the tracks teeming with lifeblood but the term solo saxophone is completely subverted with the tools he applies - loops and electronics that help construct a sonic world unto itself. The end result is not what you may think of as solo sax, but a soundscape of depth and precision that gives the listener a real experience. 

The nearly 10 minutes of 'Sunk Costs' begins with the lone sax, travels through a dense patch of post-rock intensity, and ends in a firestorm of melodic phrases. 'Sworn Enemies' follows suit - in that it's not what you would expect - after a percussive beginning where Nelson is maybe amplifying the sound of his keys clamping, creating a mesmerizing sound sculpture that slowly pounds its way into an electronic skronk. 'Motor Mouth' is unusual in that you hear the sax being simply a sax. Less electronically manipulated, but still treated to some processing, the song unravels like a long tangle of melody, captivating in its circular motions. The closing 'To Believe in What' is a forlorn cry - some part primal, some part a nautical horn, and all emotion - squalls of electronics threaten to swallow the bellowing sax but it always navigates its way through the fog.  

Nelson is a member of the recently reviewed Battle Trance, another unusual sax oriented recording that plumbs the depths of circular breathing and repetition. An unique sound and approach, and another great solo saxophone recording from 2014.