Friday, January 25, 2019

Chris Corsano, Bill Nace, Steve Baczkowski – Mystic Beings (Open Mouth, 2018) *****

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos 

It’s a shame that just for a few days this album didn’t make it on my top ten list. In fact, this trio of Chris Corsano on drums, Bill Nace on electric guitar and Steve Baczkowski on saxophones was, along with Kuzu’s debut, the most powerful album of the drums-guitar-sax statement in 2018. Unfortunately the vinyl is already sold out.

Writing a review about a recording that moved you cannot be another day at the office. And Mystic Beings really shook me. This line up can always live up to its noisy promises, but it can also drown itself into purposeless sheer volume. This, seems to me, is much more common lately when the boundaries between noise, free jazz and metal are non-existent any more. The results are sometimes beautiful but many times just noisy boring.

Not this time, and not from Open Mouth’s catalogue. Bill Naces’ eclectic label doesn’t put out a lot of recordings, but when something new comes out you better listen. In addition, what we have here is an egalitarian collaboration of three artists at the peak of their creativity. A free jazz blow out that delivers energy and pathos before volume. Being a fan of Chris Corsano’s multiple ways of presenting himself, I must sing praise of Nace’s guitar and the way he presents a sound almost new. He delves deep into psychedelia but not from a rock perspective and not, even, from a jazz one. His guitar sound is unique, conveying feedback into melody, while he teams up with a sax player well known for his volume of sound. In the same egalitarian way, Steve Baczkowski makes room for the guitar to breath, follow and lead. The polyrhythmic barrage of Corsano, joins them but also goes it’s on way.

Tension builds up right from the start of Mystic Beings. Except for the last track, Excuse Me, where they try to loosen up their tight knit collaboration, all the other three tracks present an almost new way to listen to a free jazz record. I do not know how they do it, but each artist is presented in two ways: as a soloist and as a member of the trio. I could easily isolate its instrument, follow its path and make something out of it. Really. That good dear reader.



  1. So this is an awesome album I have no chance of ever hearing?

    1. Forced Exposure still has copies available and Discogs has four up for sale.


  3. Great review Fotis I love this album as well, I'm glad you got it written up. Baczkowski is a beast on the reeds!

  4. There's some video from the session here -
    That cut didn't make it to the record, gives a strong indication of how high the bar is.

    I'm unsure about the following though, -
    "This line up can always live up to its noisy promises, but it can also drown itself into purposeless sheer volume."
    Is that this line up of musicians? or this line up of instrumentation? If the latter, theres some truth to that. If the former, I'd strongly contest that as a mischaracterisation.

    Open Mouth releases have started to be made available digitally via Cafe Oto - guess this may surface at some point.
    There is a prior trio outing 'Stolen Car' available on Golden Lab records which is similarly hep

  5. FOTIS NIKOLAKOPOULOSJanuary 25, 2019 at 8:54 PM

    This line up of musicians definitely is not purposeless sheer volume...
    I apologise for any misunderstandings...

  6. I love this album, too. But I have no idea what this review wants to tell me. :-(

  7. Sigh. Another album that I'd LIKE to hear but which is available only on vinyl. I DO NOT WANT TO OWN OR PLAY VINYL. I want either a CD or a download. (And I don't want to have to buy the vinyl to get a download code, either.)

  8. Alek Hidell - Open Mouth records are usually available for download from Cafe Oto's website. This one doesn't appear to be up just yet, but if you want to, I will ask Bill Nace to upload it there.


  9. Hi Anonymous,

    Yes, please do ask him to put it on the Oto site. I promise I'll buy it!

  10. record still available
    and here

  11. I just received my vinyl copy. An awesome album.

  12. This ones now up digitally
    thanks for the interest


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