Wednesday, August 06, 2014

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

The Thing is a force of nature free-jazz and more band consisting of Mats Gustafsson on bass, baritone, tenor and soprano saxophones, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten on electric bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. Developing unshakable empathy after years of relentless recording and touring, the band is fearless and uncompromising and the music follows suit. John Coltrane's "India" opens the album, and the exotic melody is stated before the band takes off with snarling saxophone, over-amped bass and amphetamine laced drumming. The dinosaur like stomp continues on "Reboot" but after the wailing and pummeling interlude, there is a more spacious interlude of malleted drums like the eye of a hurricane, before everyone comes back together building faster and faster, wildly exciting and developing an edifice of pure sound. Duke Ellington's "Heaven" has a opening of probing saxophone and cymbals - these guys do not need to be reminded of their power and they use it judiciously here. They are still playing fast, but the intensity level is just taken down a notch. "Red River" has an outburst of noise from the trio.The group is really locked in around Haker-Flaten's strong bass which holds things together even when they move into the most over the top free-jazz/noise-rock. The title song "Boot!" is heavier but at the same time more spacious and they take their time before they "put the boot in" as it were. Finally, "Epilog" (their spelling) features shards of musical glass shattering, and the music delivers mounting tension seeking release in slabs of saxophone and electric bolts of bass over nimble, yet pummeling drumming. Pure catharsis comes as wave upon wave of noise rolls in, obliterating all that comes before it. This was a wonderful album, a cleansing experience for the listener (this one anyway) blasting away all of the sadness and hopelessness of everyday life and replacing it with a lean attitude imbued with the idea that you still have power, whatever your circumstances may be. Music is power and empowering. Boot! -

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