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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Gush - The March (Konvoj, 2015) *****

By Stef

To write this review, I haven't listened to the other eight Gush albums that were released in the last 27 years, but I guess this is without a doubt one of the best. Gush are Mats Gustafsson on sax, Sten Sandell on piano and Raymond Strid on drums. The performance was recorded live at the celebration of their 25th anniversary two years ago. The label writes "The group and its musicians have since continued to strongly affect, mold, deform, develop, embroil and transform both the sound of their music as well as its audience", and that is indeed the case. And they get better each time, if you ask me. 

The album consists of one very long improvisation of around thirty minutes, one of medium length of seventeen minutes and a relatively short piece of five minutes. The music is beyond description, but if anybody is interested in the concept of group dynamics and collective improvised composing, I guess this album is a great example. The three pieces are called "Barely An Instant Before The March", "Seated In His Tiny Cage" and "Early In The Treatment". It could sound like the chapters in a horror novel, and maybe it is, and at times it sounds like that too.

However I prefer a more "romantic" description. Their playing is like waves in the sea slowly building up and crashing on the rocks below your feet. Their playing is like flames bringing heat and unpredictable patterns full of beauty. Their playing is like wind turning from a warm summer breeze into a wild thunderstorm and back. It's about common things getting out of proportion, about beauty pushed to extreme contrasts. There is drama, there is time to contemplate, there is time to wonder, there is time to just appreciate the beauty and the power of it all. Like the waves, the flames and the wind, the three instruments move as one, creating the waves the flames the wind that dance in front of you, that take you by surprise, that keep you glued to your place to listen, listen and listen. And that's maybe why I prefer the 'romantic' description over the 'horror' story, because you don't want it to stop.

Gustafsson's howls are the most human a sax can produce, Sandell's piano-playing is lyrical and percussive and Strid's percussion has its own mysterious fluid aesthetic, and together they create this intense abstract beauty of sounds flowing together and creating some of the most organic music you can hear, like waves, flames and wind.

Raw, intense and lyrical beauty.

Listen and download from Bandcamp. Also available in vinyl. Available from Instantjazz


Tommy said...

I saw them on this tour, at the Fasching jazz club in Stockholm. It was a great show, and "The March" is a great record, probably my favorite jazz album of 2015 so far.

Maybe Gush will get some serious competition soon, though. All of a sudden there seems to be a lot of ****1/2 to ***** reviews on the site, and I'm really excited to dive into some of those albums.