Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thumbscrew - Thumbscrew (Cuneiform, 2014)

Thumbscrew is a cross-generational group made up of three of the heaviest hitters on the contemporary improvisational scene. Featuring Mary Halvorson on guitar, Michael Formanek on bass and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. All three of the members of the group are composers, and they decided to write music strictly for this project. The results work very well, developing music that is dynamic with shifting moods from shadowy to very exciting. “Cheap Knock Off” opens the album in excellent fashion, creating knotty musical arrangements with spidery guitar over open-ended bass and drums. The back to back punch of “Goddess Sparkle” and  “Buzzard Breath” serve as the heart of the album, and in particular service as springboards for excellent playing my Mary Malvorson both in ensemble and soloing capacities. ”Still… Doesn’t Swing” is a wry commentary about the difficulty some critics and patrons have in understanding new music, comparing it to the past rather that accepting the present. The band is at its best, truly a cooperative, playing in an idiosyncratic and ever shifting manner. The band never really squeals or howls, but yet the intensity is still there, as if the energy that could have been expanded on volume or bombast was folded back into the music creating a unique and quietly powerful narrative. Thumbscrew - amazon.com

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