Sunday, June 8, 2008

Return Of The New Thing - Alchemia (Not Two, 2008) ****½

If you like creative, genre-bending, fully improvised, expansive and energetic free jazz, then you will surely enjoy this. The British-French quartet, consisting of Dan Warburton on piano and violin, Jean-Luc Guionnet on alto sax, Francois Fuchs on bass and Edward Perraud on drums, has a real take-no-prisoners approach. The three long tracks (approx. 29, 24 and 17 minutes, aptly titled 29:09, 24:41 and 17:20), are a pure powerhouse of full-speed intensity and unrelenting energy. Once in a while the wall of violence slows down for spiky and intense interactions between the four musicians, but not for long, because it swells again and becomes another giant wave that pulls and pushes everything along that crosses its path until it eventually comes crashing down, with splatters of piano notes, crashing cymbals and throbbing strings flying in all directions. The second track starts very quietly, creating bizarre soundscapes, evolving into a double-tempoed quartet, with sax and drums playing up a storm, while piano and arco bass compete for slowness, but it doesn't take long before they too are sucked up by the passing tornado, violent and powerful, which after a while unexpectedly disappears, evaporates or whatever those things do, to leave the empty space to dispersed sound debris, bits and pieces of music scattered all over the place with no clear order, each individually meaningless, and which, surprisingly, reassemble to become, yes, another juggernaut, another behemoth of sound, moving hard, moving fast, occupying all space, propulsed forward, sucking up everything that it encounters on its way, and even more suprisingly, full of velvet sensitivity.

Listen and download from eMusic.

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