It's a rare and wonderful thing where you are so challenged as a listener that you are not sure of what's happening, but you know you need more. This happened to me during the 2011 Vision Festival when on one of the nights when the power trio of Peter Evans (trumpet), Mike Pride (drums) and Tim Dahl (extremely electric bass) shredded the atmosphere of the sweaty auditorium.
The sound was, well, pulverizing - Dahl's unconventional bass playing was simultaneously melodic, percussive, and a white noise generator. Pride's drums were a momentous force, and Evans' amplified trumpet cut above, below, and through the dense rhythm. It was a brazen affair and in a sense, probably as jarring and forward looking as another trumpet players hard charging electric music from forty years earlier.
Now several years later, with the squishy gift of memory and time, I am listening to Pulverize the Sound's debut album with the same intensity. Like my colleague Martin pointed out on a recent review of the reissue of Last Exit's Iron Path, the first studio recording of the band was a different affair than the live one - no less fascinating, but different. The same can be sort of be said of this trio. While there are those raw and visceral moments, there are also more nuanced and structured moments to grasp onto. That's a pretty fair trade off - where the volume and fresh intensity of the live performance is balanced with atmosphere and dynamics.
And so now, the music. Starting with the opening 'Frank Anthony', everything I just wrote about atmosphere and dynamics seems wrong. The opening riff is pounding - and when it opens up, the melodic piece is a powerful wall of compressed and distorted bass chords, powerful drumming. Evans' trumpet playing vacillates between the melodic passages and rhythmic figures. Then, about halfway through, the song breaks down - Pride switches to a textural approach and Dahl's playing becomes very abstract. As they build back into the song, Evan's adopts a distorted tone and towards the end of the track, the original pounding riff comes back into play. The follow up 'Unison' begins on strong contrast to the previous song. The head of the tune begins with a syncopated and complex figure. Evans leads this song, bright and clear in the mix, Dahl provides more counter-melody than bass (in fact, that's pretty true throughout) and by the time that the electronics kick in - and stay in - the energy has picked up substantially.
I've only taken us about halfway though the album, however hopefully that is enough to convince you that this is a challenging, smart, and groundbreaking album. If you get a chance to catch the group live do so. No doubt they have changed in the ensuing years since that first polarizing and memorable appearance at the Vision Fest, but only for the best.