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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Left Exit - Mr K (Clean Feed, 2015) ****½

By Stefan Wood

Let's be clear: this is not the group Last Exit. There's no Peter Brotzmann, no Bill Laswell, no Sonny Sharrock. No ear splitting music, no shredding nor thunderous pounding of the senses. This is Mr. K's Left Exit, Mr. K being the duo of Karl Hjalmar Nyberg (sax) and Andreas Skår Winther (drums). Joining them on this album are Michael Francis Duch (bass), and Klaus Ellerhusen Holm (sax/clarinet). Their music is minimal, using silence as it's fifth group member, hovering close to the bottom register and at low volume, tense and atmospheric, with only a few moments of high pitched bursts that are satisfyingly climatic.

 Throughout the eight tracks on the album, the group effectively paints an abstract canvas of sonic gestures and modes, building compositions that emphasize a sparseness and economy of voices that are quite beautiful. Nyberg and Holm are practically breathing into their instruments, like crickets. Duch has a hypnotic rhythm to his bass playing -- a low, faint register that is nevertheless insistent and penetrating. Winther's percussion shimmers like light on a rippling ocean -- again, not pounding, and not soothing, but atmospheric, accenting the overall tone of the music. 

Left Exit may not be earth shattering like Last Exit, but it is no less compelling. Fine abstract compositions, excellent improv. Recommended!