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Sunday, March 19, 2017

CP Unit – Before The Heat Death (Clean Feed, 2017) ****

By Chris Haines

CP Unit is Chris Pitsiokos (alto sax) and luminaries Brandon Seabrook (guitar), Tim Dahl (bass) and Weasel Walter (drums). The sound of the quartet borrows as much, if not more, from experimental hybrids of rock as it does from free jazz and improvisational forms. The music is at times highly energetic, dynamic and complex whilst delivering the strong punch and solidity of heavy rock music.

The album opens with ‘Fried’, a piece structurally divided into two parts, the first sounding like it could have been included on Captain Beefheart’s classic Trout Mask Replica, whilst the second part has the quartet punctuating a solid pulse of varying phrase length with what sounds like musical electric shocks. ‘Quantized’, is anything but that and starts with a guitar riff that wouldn’t go amiss on an 80’s King Crimson album or something by avant-proggers Thinking Plague. ‘Guillotine’ the shortest track on the album at just over a minute and a half starts and ends with the whole quartet delineating a single line, which is thrown aside for a chaotic and free frenzy for the middle part. As an antidote to the avant-rockism’s of the other tracks ‘Ballad’ starts like a classic piece of free improvisation – searching sounds in a pulseless environment which eventually forms the backdrop for Pitsiokos’ freeform soloing.

This is a great ‘little’ album, and here’s the rub, coming in at under the half-hour mark by today’s standards it leaves us wanting and expecting a bit more. However, sometimes great things come in the smallest packages and the fact that it leaves us wanting more is a testament to the quality of the music that this interesting quartet delivers.


Richard said...

Very happy to see this one get a good review. This album seriously cranks.

As someone who came to free jazz via punk rock rather than more traditional jazz, this is close to an ideal album for me. The short run time seems appropriate given the style.

Lee said...

This album is fierce and great. It's so jam-packed, I hadn't really noticed the short running time before reading Chris's review.