Saturday, December 17, 2016

Naked Wolf - Ahum (Clean Feed, 2016)

Naked Wolf is a very interesting band that balances exciting outbursts of free improvisation and indie rock with moments of melodic and fragile lyricism. The group consists of Luc Ex on bass, Yedo Gibson on baritone, tenor and soprano saxophones plus clarinet, Gerri Jager on drums, Felicity Provan on trumpet and vocals and Mikael Szafirowski on guitar and vocals. “Wugiwoo” opens the album with a quasi-funky beat and airy female vocals, then incorporating toots of saxophone and snarls of guitar, which move the music forward by creating a nice tight groove. Ominous atmospheric noise sets the stage for “School Der Poëzie” building a droning and pneumatic beat before shifting to a rockish groove with strong vocals. Provan’s trumpet arcs over the busy groove, building to powerful intensity as soprano saxophone breaks out and swirls. “Trust Don't Rye” has metallic guitar riffs, and strutting horns. Spoken male vocals chant, goaded on by the band, strong drumbeat and snarling guitar drop down in tempo, making emotional space for the plaintive vocals. Open sounding female vocals are the centerpiece of “Coloured Gold” and the pace of the music picks up and fills in via strong bass and drum beats, guitar and soprano saxophone, squeaky reeds and brass accent the band’s sound. There is a fast paced full band feel on “Pied Aérolithe” and then female vocals boosted by stuttering guitar and drums and Provan’s trumpet rips against heavy backdrop.  A crushing beat on “Nudge” lurches forward amidst shards of guitar and bleats of brass and reed. With a quality full band improvisation being developed, sounding flinty and progressive, and featuring excellent guitar playing. They make a dynamic downshift to breath sounds from the saxophone and drums before rising again to the conclusion. The title track “Ahum” has vocalizations and bass which move into intricate full band improvisation. Smears of horns, and funky bass drums harken back to Ornette Coleman’s harmolodic music before a shift to a quieter more melodic section is taken. There is a quote from Charles Mingus to begin “Eric Wolfy,” then the group breaks out for streaks of guitar and drums with thick bass and jabs of horns making for a solid collective improvisation, which gains volume and strength impressively and sports a very good solo sport for raw unaccompanied saxophone. Finally, “Sau Sage” features scattered sounds and stuttering horns climbing higher with bass and drums filling in, and culminating in stark guitar riffing intense, before throttling down to quiet and introspective ending. The music on this album is unpredictable, twisting and turning with grace and creativity. The group touches on a number of musical styles and succeed in making them into a personal statement. Ahum -

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