Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Battle Trance - Blade of Love (New Amsterdam Records, 2016)

The four tenor saxophonists that make up the band Battle Trance: Travis Laplante, Patrick Breiner, Matt Nelson and Jeremy Viner have coalesced as a strong and distinctive unit through heavy touring, performance and practice. During this period they developing their own unique sound that draws on the history of the tenor saxophone in jazz as well as classical and other experimental types of music. The album consists of the composition "Blade of Love" which is a suite of three movements that attempts to expand the notion of the tenor saxophone as an ensemble instrument. The group looks to tear down the separation between the human spirit and the instrument itself, melding it into one primal force and the music resonates with unusually deep emotional impact. Battle Trance sounds like a quieter, more meditative version of the World Saxophone Quartet. Where the other band may take its cues from bop and blues, they have a very textural sound with no one dominating the music, making it a truly cooperative effort. Much of the music is woven into solemn tapestries of sound, allowing experimental drones to wash across the soundscapes. The haunting sound of breath weaves through the third and final track, making for an ominous and spooky feel, before the music develops in an imaginative fashion with the musicians circling around each other as the volume rises. At times, the four players sing while exhaling through the saxophone tubes, using the instrument's keys to alter the sound of their voices. There are many layers to the music that are explored throughout their improvisations, with more intense situations that are abruptly cut off in exchange for near silence which increases their dynamic range. Blade of Love -

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