Monday, July 20, 2020

Owl Xounds Exploding Galaxy - The Coalescence (ESP, 2020)

The free jazz band Owl Xounds made considerable waves as performers and recording artists on the fertile early 2000's New York City scene, and this album takes it's material from an unreleased 2007 studio session. The band consists of Adam Kriney on drums, Gene Janas and Shayna Dulberger on bass and Mario Rechtern on saxophones, electronics and various objects. The opening track "Distillation" has abstract ominous underwater like sounds rumbling, as the drums and bass come alive, playing fast and hard. Two bases plus shrill squalls of saxophone make for an exciting full bore free jazz collective improvisation that is raw and true. The band uses unfettered sound in dynamic ways, as sawing bowed bass and multi rhythmic drums keep the music fresh, while keeping the sound space open to any available idea. Scouring saxophone returns taking the quartet back into the deep seated free jazz realm once again, and finally to an abrupt conclusion. "Cavernous Ode" fades into to stark and jagged improvisation with slashing drums and soaring unfettered saxophone anchored by the two basses. Rechtern's saxophone hits high peaks amid deft cymbal play, and crushing drums as they two encourage each other to greater heights. There is a dynamic drop in volume, leading to a section of abstraction, where fast bass playing, and probing saxophone, begin to climb back up in volume and tone, trading of ideas in an open space with the drone of bowed bass keeping watch. Heavy drums with pinched play off against a pinched sounding reed, with the basses underneath, and the band reaches a terrific speed and sounds fantastic doing so, in control, but clearly reaching for the unknown without fear. A mix of bass and percussion, little instruments opens "Aghast at Last" before raw and piercing saxophone cuts through the elastic bass and drums, and the band sounds absolutely fearsome, pushing forward in and undaunted manner, performing collective improvisation at a very high level. Some space opens up between the instruments, allowing a little room to breathe, as the saxophone and drums joust, framed by the basses, and it's just pedal to the metal, exhausting but thrilling. There is a fine section for bass and drums and use of shakers and odd instruments for added texture, deeply woven and atmospheric leading to a fade out closure. This was a very good album of free jazz, the band plays with plenty of bravado and isn't afraid to break free of convention and try different things and go their own way. This is a limited edition vinyl (and digital download) release pressed quickly for the musicians to have releases to sell during the pandemic. Free jazz fans should act fast before it sells out. Owl Xounds Exploding Galaxy - The Coalescence - Bandcamp

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