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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bogdo Ula - Crash Canis Majoris (self-released, 2012) ****

By Paul Acquaro

In the note that came along with Bogdo Ula's Crash Canis Majoris, guitarist Samuli Kristian indicated that the Finnish trio was making a conscientious effort to change up their sound. This power trio's music, which is fully improvised, features full throated guitar, punchy bass, and propulsive percussion. So, what could be wrong?

"In a sense," says Kristian, "we were becoming prisoners of freedom."

So, this time around the guitar has a drier tone, and minus some of lush reverb effects, the group has to work harder to fill space. Fortunately, they seem up to the task. In my last review of this group, I mentioned hearing echoes of Terje Rypdal's more rock oriented work, as well as the spirit of the Scorch Trio. While some of this still holds true, the sound leans in a rawer, less filtered, direction. I am having some trouble thinking of a direct comparison, but as their CD Baby page mention Nels Cline, I can see some common ground with the Nels Cline during the Trio era.

Crash Canis Majoris is a high-energy and highly melodic affair, and like I mentioned last time when I wrote about Prisoners of Freedom, it seems like these spur of the moment melodies could have been written out or perhaps should be written down as they are quite compelling and complete. Adding to the overall sound is the telepathic and tight interaction between the bass, drums and guitar.

The album kicks off with 'Your Sign Cygnus', which blasts off (to piggy back on the album's space travel metaphor) without a hitch. The trio's high octane performance will suck the air out of your lungs as fast as accidentally opening the ship's portal without your space helmet on. The energy continues from song to song, in fact, the transitions between songs is more like a momentary pause rather than begin a new song. 'Crash Canis Majoris' features Jean Ruin's punchy and driving bass lines and drummer Ivan Horder never lets up, always pushing the tunes and tempos forward. The song 'I Never Was Anyway' is probably the most atmospheric on the album, featuring space and suspense between the notes and the instruments. Other tunes, like the aforementioned opener, are exemplars of tight improvised fusion, with the guitar leading through dense thickets of arpeggios red melodies and biting chords.

Another good outing for the trio, a small evolution in sound, but still relying on their improvisational intuition.