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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kid Millions & Jim Sauter - Fountain (Family Vineyard, 2014) ***½

By Matthew Grigg

Fountain is the second release from the recently minted duo of drummer Kid Millions (John Colpitts) and sax scorcher Jim Sauter, their debut 'Boanerges' having been released via doubtmusic in 2013. Sauter is one third of 'snuff jazz' heavy hitters Borbetomagus, and Millions, of post-modern rock omnivores Oneida and the percussion led Man Forever, may be familiar to regular readers after 2014's Record Store Day release with J. Spaceman. Over the course of just over half an hour the ferocity of their pugilism here both whitens knuckles and cauterises styli.

Sauter is not heavily documented outside of his 35 year tenure with Borbetomagus, their 'free jazz/free noise/simultaneously both yet completely other' sound is so hermetically sealed that it is almost impossible to imagine any of the trio playing outside of the group's confines. However Sauter is instantly recognisable, his tone laid relatively bare in this context and the distorted contours of his lines feel all the more barbarous for it. His playing, whilst often molten, deploys an overt musicality behind the bluster of overblown tones and distortion pedal fuzz, the incendiary feel offset by some (relative) delicacy when moving through the lower gears. Its a shame that Sauter hasn't been more active in a wider circle of improvised settings, one can't help but feel his approach would have really injected some fire and confrontation (à la Bailey at his most mischievous).

Millions utilises a hyper kinetic approach which creates a sense of perpetual inertia throughout, often straining at the leash as if goaded by Sauter, at times pulling the sax along with excitable eagerness. Millions is in fine company here, the few recordings which find Sauter alongside a drummer (mostly as a consequence of his association with the criminally underrated/under-recorded guitarist Rudolph Grey) have seen him sparring with the likes of Rashied Ali and Beaver Harris, direct comparison with whom would do Millions a disservice. His approach, which has drawn criticism from some corners, is entirely different, favouring variation in rhythmic density to explore dynamic range. Consequently there is a feeling that the tension is never fully released as Millions never fully backs down, what could be read as a lack of variety is more likely a dialectic devise which ensures the duo's propulsive modus operandi is always in play.

Fountain, for all its energy and good work, never feels consistently as revelatory as the duo's debut, something possibly attributable to the former's higher risk live concert setting vs. the higher fidelity/lower risk nature of this studio session. Regardless, it is a fine recording, full of vim and vigour, vitality, velocity and violence, an insistent release from a duo with ideas to burn and the potential to last.

Available as LP/FLAC/MP3