Monday, February 27, 2017

Krokofant - Krokofant III (Rune Grammofon, 2017)

This is a very exciting Norwegian power trio consisting of Axel Skalstad on drums, Tom Hasslan on guitar and Jorgen Mathisen on saxophones and synthesizers. The group opens the album with the song "Tommy Synth" which has some snake-charmer soprano saxophone, slithering its way between the powerful electric guitar and drums, while buzzing electric guitar takes advantage of an opening to add some filling-rattling fills. Then the saxophonist moves to tenor on "Clazz" for a darker, starker tone and the group falls in with some of their most scalding playing, particularly from electric guitar which is thrilling and very nearly over the top. For the aptly named track "Juice" there is a choppy theme for soprano, guitar, bass and fractured drumming. The music develops some fine waves of dynamic energy, easing in and out of focus, creating full bodied improvisational sections which use their distinct musical personalities which graft together jazz rhythm and driving rock beats. There is a very nicely played saxophone solo, with the beat gradually getting louder and the drums driving the music forward, making for a killing collectively improvised section with everybody leaning into the music. "Double Dad" develops a percussive onslaught with snarls of guitar and saxophone pulling into a driving forward motion that is complex yet accessible. The music moves into an ominous grind, incorporating aspects of metallic sludge and early 1970's King Crimson with stark guitar sparking against the slabs of electronics and powerful percussion, making for an imposing and inspiring combination. The album is wrapped up by the epic "Wrong Turn" with waves of raw saxophone abetted by strong guitar and drumming. They develop an interesting theme and then proceed to use it as a springboard for a fine lengthy improvised section. Smears of grinding electronics, jagged drums and raw guitar create a haunting mid-section, keeping the power harnessed and under control, and using dynamics to raise and lower the ferocity as necessary. The music snaps back into focus with hard charging saxophone, and pummeling drums, leading to a very exciting conclusion. The group plays highly energetic and exciting jazz-rock that uses both freedom and structure, which should appeal to both rock audiences and open-eared jazz fans. Krokofant III -

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