Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Thing With Barry Guy - Metal! (No Business, 2012)

The Thing is a long-standing Scandinavian free-jazz unit consisting of Mats Gustafsson on saxophones, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten on bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. On this album they hook up with the legendary British composer and bassist Barry Buy for a number of free-jazz blowouts and short vignettes. This album was recorded live at Saint Catherine's Church in Vilnius, Lithuania on 3rd April, 2011. The opening track, "Lanthanum" is an epic in its own right, with scraping and clanging bass and drums inviting in strong resonant saxophone and more bass. Saxophone wails and drums thrash through storming free improvisation. The dynamics between the bassists is fascinating; one plucking, one bowing and all in service to the musical maelstrom. Improvising saxophone and bowed bass in the cavernous space of the church give the music a feel akin to Albert Ayler's live performances. This particular performance unfolds slowly and almost suite-like, with parings and couplings of instruments coming together and splitting apart like so many atoms. Elastic bass and slapping drums heralds the conclusion that is raw and potent. After a couple of short interludes including a bass duet, the band comes together with "Neodymium" opening with popping saxophone and chain-rattling ghostly percussion, the group quickly takes flight with Gustafsson and Nilssen-Love leading the charge with some hair raising music, squaring off like two boxers in the ring slugging it out. There is a quiet interlude, like the eye of a hurricane which uses silence as a canvas to improvise upon, then everyone comes together for a conclusion of pupil-dilating noise. "Europhium" starts quietly with a loosely developing saxophone solo building over quiet percussion. High plucked bass and saxophone build a fascinating drone effect which develops tension in the piece. Nilssen-Love takes a pristine solo on cymbals before scorching saxophone and basses return to take the music into the stratosphere. This was a very well played and recorded performance. The Thing is a very malleable unit that can host practically any guest, and Guy is the perfect foil on this occasion. Metal: No Business Records.

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