Sunday, August 18, 2019

CP Unit - Riding Photon Time (Eleatic Records, 2019)

This is a smashing live album from the CP Unit: Chris Pitsiokos on alto saxophone and electronics, Sam Lisabeth on electric guitar, Henry Fraser on electric bass and Jason Nazary on drums and electronics. The music was recorded at the Moers Festival in Germany and at the Unlimited Music Festival in Wels, Austria in 2018. The opening track, "Once Upon a Time Called Now (excerpt)," begins with probing saxophone and drums, gathering steam with the saxophone tearing at the air with rending sounds. The guitar and bass bound in, livening the mood, thick bass and snarling guitar leading the music in a different direction, toward a free funk with squealing saxophone section that is very exciting to hear. Their collective improvisation is dynamic and multi layered, playing with time and space to keep the music unpredictable and compelling. "Positional Play" is a short and fast track with the group in a nimble full band sprint, playing full out with the saxophone sending swells of sound to play off against the choppy rhythm section that responds with jabs of bass and snorts of electric guitar, while the percussion is light, keeping an open and inviting environment. Funky bass opens "The Tower" with filigrees of saxophone and drums keeping things light while gaining speed as the guitar gradually folds into the mix. They are repeating a motif, getting stronger and stronger, kneading it, building from it and then finally using it as a launch pad for a deeper and more complex ending. "A Knob on the Face of a Man" has some interesting solo saxophone, with Pitsiokos playing super fast bebop like sounds that soon turn into a very happy sounding melody with thick buoyant bass and drums and bouncy and swinging cadence, almost like an island melody that Sonny Rollins would use. Laser splashes of guitar and blobs of bass rotate around the drums as flashy saxophone frames all of the action and the group convene for a stellar improvised section with Pitsiokos playing some absolutely blistering free saxophone howls. The juxtaposition between the jagged saxophone and the bright and melodic backdrop is jarring but fascinating and works very well. The delightfully titled "Dirt is the New Clean" bursts out of the gate with everybody playing fast and hard, coiled together like thick braided cable, and providing a taut focused full band performance. Guitar provides quavering lines above the scene like heat lines shimmering on a highway as the bass and percussion burrow into the ground for support and the saxophone powers through with grit and perseverance. The electronics really come into play here, taking the music and shape-shifting it into something unusual and interesting. "Orelius" has a strong guitar, bass and drum feature, going for it in a hard fusion style, before the saxophone enters and ups the excitement even further. Everyone comes together for a lightning fast over the to free jazz sprint which is very exciting to hear, weaving the instruments together allowing the dynamic to fade in and out and pushing the music to move continuously forward. Riding Photon Time - amazon.com

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