Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Lean Left – I Forgot To Breathe (Trost, 2017) ****
By Martin Sekelsky
Eyal Hareuveni’s recent e-interview with Paal Nilssen-Love revealed the release of Lean Left’s new record ‘I Forgot To Breathe’. The line-up features the same quartet of stellar musicians featured on their previous outings. The tandem of Paal Nilssen-Love and Ken Vandermark pair up once again with The Ex Guitars consisting of Terrie Ex and Andy Moor for some raucous free music. The album and track titles hint to a fascination with lung anatomy. Indeed, their music has raw, breathtaking beauty and physical intensity. They do not disappoint.
The album opener 'Costal Surface' immediately seizes the ears of the listener. The quartet’s audacious opening takes no quarter. Soon, the explosivity makes way for Vandermark’s deep baritone and tenor saxophone on a background of guitar-built abstractions before extending into silence.
'Margo Inferior' features a unit in search of common ground with Vandermark’s clarinet and Nilssen-Love’s drums inviting the guitars to play. Following a noisy discussion, they conclude in silence.
'Groove For Sub Clavian Vein' is the longest and most enjoyable track on the album. It features the quartet starting out slowly. They level soon, build towards an untenable climax, find the promised groove and pull up an impressive curtain of sound. The track also showcases Nilssen-Love’s love for otherworldly rhythms. Following the percussive intermezzo, the unit settles in a new, funk-like crescendo groove driven by Vandermark’s tenor sax. Following the climax, the track extends into electrical abstractions on a background of brushwork before Vandermark’s clarinet takes the track home.
'Oblique Fissure' starts of nervously with muffled saxophone joined by impatient guitars, causing reeds to squeal and bleat before drums join in. The discussion heats up and builds to a climax with the different voices making their points clear. They conclude in mutual agreement, then silence.
'Pleural Lobe' paints abstractly with guitar and clarinet leading the dance, followed closely by cymbals. Drums join the busy color communication in between the musicians before the track extends into abstract beginnings.
'Cardiac Impression', the final track and a direct reference to the artwork, starts off with Vandermark’s deep baritone sax and The Ex Guitars supported by frame drums. The quartet take the listener into a hold one last time with saxophone squeals and distorted chords before sounding farewell. Impressed indeed.
I forgot to breathe is a varied and intense effort by a stellar quartet that still has a lot to say. Recommended.
Addendum: This is a review of the CD version as appreciated through an audiophile system for best quality. The LP version contains one additional track entitled ‘Carnassials’. This reviewer never heard the LP version. Nevertheless, both versions come recommended.