Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Lean Left - Live at the Area Sismica (Unsounds, 2014)

I don't know if Sismica has anything to do with earthquakes (since the cover has two guys climbing a lava flow), but the band on this album is a force of nature in their own right. This killer group consists of Terrie Ex and Andy Moor of the Dutch anarchist punk band The Ex on guitars,  Paal Nilssen-Love on drums and Ken Vandermark on various reed instruments. It's a great lineup: the guitar players throw rough, sharp points into the mix as Nilssen-Love acts like a whirlwind moving too and fro at will. Vandermark is excellent as always: patient in the slower one and explosive and truly exciting when things hit the fan. The "South Sister" is the most face-melting where the music moves toward their most outrageous improvising on record with the guitarists moving from jagged shards to outright mayhem with Nilssen-Love hot on his heels. This is the centerpiece of the album, stretching out for twelve minutes of ecstatic free jazz, aiming for liftoff and achieving orbit. Epic free jazz waves of sound washing over you. They will move into more abstract Territory like on "Cleft Segment" where longing foghorn sounds of saxophone meet scrapes of guitar and cymbal manipulation in an eerie spooky manner. Moving from that slong to the scalding "Gada Ale" gives you some idea of the dynamic range of this band. One of the guitars may act as another horn at times, shadowing and engaging Vandermark who is at his most inspired, clearly having a blast as are all members of the group. If you are into free jazz or avant-rock, do not pass this one by, it is a keeper and then some. Live at Area Sismica - amazon.com

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