Monday, June 12, 2017

Lean Left - I Forgot to Breathe (Trost Records, 2017)

Lean Left is an inspired combination of guitarists Andy Moor and Terrie Hessels from the legendary Dutch punk band The Ex with free jazz luminaries Ken Vandermark on saxophones and clarinet and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. This is their seventh album together, and it was recorded in Amsterdam in 2015, beginning with "Coastal Surface" which opens with heavy grinding as all of the band's gears engage in a very cool fashion. This is a high impact balls to the wall conflagration, pushing the music to the outer limits before they pull back to allow some open space leading to a delightfully skewed portion of extended techniques then to a graceful conclusion. "Margo Inferior" has some rattling and clanking percussion with squeaks and pops which turns into a budding collective improvisation that is fast and forceful. The juxtaposition of the fast, hard exciting section and the open spaced areas comes forth like an invitation to dance. The epic "Groove for Sub Clavian Vein" is the centerpiece of the recording beginning with probing saxophone and guitar zig-zagging through the available space. They begin to slash and burn at a boisterous high volume which has an exhilarating impact. The music is wide open and unpredictable, moving massive blocks of sound becoming alarming and imposing while still thrilling the listener with strong pummeling drumming that keeps everything focused as Nilssen-Love builds a creative solo from his cymbals inward. There's a dynamic downshift for electronics and then Vandermark's blazing saxophone re-enters creating a thick sound that charges forward making a full band improvisation that is exciting and well articulated before moving to a quieter more nuanced conclusion. The spacious and abstract vibe is continued on "Oblique Fissure" beginning with choppy guitar and muddy saxophone then developing gradually to a stark and potent collective improvisation which kicks and tears at the firmament with spring loaded intensity bursting forth with dizzying excitement. "Pleural Lobe" has some alarming and imposing sounds, with music that opens and closes like breathing. Shards of electric guitar and percussion leading to a scalding improvisation that is unpredictable and exciting. The album closes with "Cardiac Impression" which takes abstract sounds and builds them into a powerful improvisation that takes the band to an over the top finish. This was another excellent album from this band, their first new release in three years. Hopefully this will rekindle the excitement in this group, leading to more performances and albums. I Forgot to Breathe - amazon.com

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