Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mockuno NuClear - Drop It (No Business, 2011)

Liudas Mockunas is a young Lithuanian saxophonist playing alto, tenor and soprano who deserves attention. Joined on this adventurous album by members of his group Mockuno NuClear are Dmitrij Golovanov on piano and electric keyboards, Marijus Aleksa on drums plus Vytis Nivinskas on bass and Darius Rudis playing drums on a few tracks. The group makes music that cuts an exciting progressive path through modern improvised music. The opening and closing tracks, "Prelude" and "Take It" develop slowly and gradually like intro and outro pieces. Saxophone and piano probe on the former, with the pace gradually picking up as bass and shimmering drums join, returning to melodic sax and piano duet. The latter has quiet cyclic phrased saxophone with cymbal splashes, gradually building a long sax tone that is held until the end. "The Cursed (Prelude Variation 2)" has light toned sax solo sax swirling, gaining steam and brawn, while putting out small pithy phrases like musical morse code, shaded with overblowing, and textures woven well in this performance that was recorded live. "The Dark Side / The Bright Side (The Bright Side is Dedicated to Andrew Hill)" is a lengthy suite where percussion, raw saxophone electric piano combine like an electric period earthy electric Miles Davis stew, full of dark funk, raw and nasty, with guttural saxophone on the first part, and a low forlorn textural solo. The second half has the electric piano, bass and drum trio developing into strong collective post-bop improv, before Mockunas returns, providing long tones of saxophone over a slower tempo. "How to Earn Money" roars out of the gate with fast paced full band improvisation pulsating, and after a fast paced rippling piano, bass and drums interlude, saxophone and drums grapple like wrestlers in a very exciting duet section. "Elephant Tango" advances a cool sinuous melody growing forward with piercing saxophone taking things outside the traditional tango, then returning back to melodic improvisation with saxophone and drums setting the pace. Deep honks of sax with electric piano moving funky saxophone bleating and cool drum patterns low toned rhodes underpins "Drop It" with exciting drums and saxophone development. All in all a well played thought out set, making clear by degrees the group's attention to detail. Drop It - No Business Records

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