Friday, November 29, 2013

The Thing - Boot! (The Thing Music, 2013)

One of my father's favorite films was the b-movie science fiction classic The Thing. Like the blood-thirsty creature from the movie, this particular Thing takes no prisoners in its amalgam of free jazz, punk rock and more. The band The Thing, who took their name from a Don Cherry composition, not the movie, consists of Mats Gustafsson on saxophones, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten on bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. This album is the inaugural release of their new label, appropriately titled The Thing Records. After starting their tenure as a Cherry tribute band, they have evolved their sound through original compositions and interesting covers ranging from PJ Harvey to The White Stripes. On this album, they honor their jazz heritage by covering “India” by John Coltrane and “Heaven” by Duke Ellington. The Coltrane piece opens the album and works really well, providing a intoxicating drone, and allows Gustafsson to play some brawny but respectful tone, befitting a song by one of his great heroes. “Heaven” is equally interesting, demonstrating the group’s use of dynamics and drama as they build the performance from a quiet opening through a powerful conclusion. This is also the case on the burly “Re-Boot” which comes hard out of the gate, before waxing and waning like a strong muscle being flexed. The 14 minute “Epilog” ends the album in grand fashion, letting the band loose on a frenetic free improvisation that is both thrilling and terrifying. The Thing are one of the most exciting units in jazz and improvisational music. Whether playing with guests like Neneh Cherry or Joe McPhee, of developing their core sound, they are a band like no other and this is another fine entry to their growing body of work. Boot -

Send comments to Tim.