Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Human Feel - Gold (Intakt, 2019)

Human Feel doesn't record very often, but when they do it is an event. The band members are all leaders and teachers in their own right, Andrew D’Angelo on alto saxophone and bass clarinet, Chris Speed on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar and Jim Black on drums, and this is their first album in twelve years. "Alar Vome" begins quietly as the reeds gently probe open space, then guitar and drums come crashing in making for a very exciting performance. The full group is a powerful unit, developing the theme into a complex collective improvisation, one that leaves open space for the trading of phrases between saxophone and guitar. The saxophones have a yearning tone as the music surges to its conclusion. There is an enticing sound of dark percussion and guitar leading "Imaginary Friend" into the fray with the saxophones stating a processional like theme, breaking out into a more complex improvisation with powerful seething tones from the saxophonists and primal accompaniment from the rhythm team, creating a very exciting and powerful collective improvisation. "Stina Blues" comes out with grinding guitar and drums in a fun and addicting way, leading to a light toned counter melody from the horns, creating a wonderful sense of light and shade that works very well. Rosenwinkel's guitar is primal and rock like, an excellent counterpoint to the reed instruments which have to reach to be heard making everyone come together in a tight formation for a smashing conclusion. There is a light and bountiful melody fluttering though "Eon Hit" as the saxophones succeed in moving the air with ample guitar grounding it and the band is very tight and able to fly in close formation quite beautifully. The percussion is fast but light, matched by one of the saxophone, while another flies free on an imaginative solo flight, the musicians trade places between leading and supporting so quickly and easily it becomes one gleefully tumbling improvisation, before an unexpectedly slow and haunted ending. "Lights Outs" opens with spare tones from the horns building to squeals, framed by electronics and the deeply atmospheric nature of the music builds slowly through eerie guitar tones, overblown saxophones and the freedom from melody or rhythm. Their improvisation is vibrant and wide ranging, the most experimental of the album for sure, but played with vision, and a need to see what lies over the next hill. Gold -

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