Sunday, November 20, 2022

OXBOW and Peter Brotzmann - An Eternal Reminder of Not Today / Live at Moers (Trost Records, 2022)

An inspired meeting of the minds, OXBOW is a band that plays plays a blend of noise rock, improvised music and blues while tenor saxophonist Peter Brotzmann is one of the architects of European free jazz. "Angel" opens the set with pleading, desperate vocals, deep bass, and peals of longing tenor saxophone. Space is opened both for vocals and saxophone, and the group is able to integrate Brotzmann well, using shards of guitar, ripping saxophone, excellent singing to excellent effect. Raw guitar feedback, opens "Cat And Mouse" with the band plus guest going into full out heavy rock / free jazz mode with the vocalist straining to be heard, then opening up to spacious area for bass, drums and singer. Brotzmann is deep and full sounding, not the least bit tentative, and the music shifts again to choppy rhythm singer belting it out, grinding guitar, scalding saxophone, pummeling drums. Ominous rolling saxophone and drums focus haunted vocals and guitar taking out this lengthy performance. "Skin" sets up the saxophone with a scratchy sounding band, as singer reaches, pushing his words out in a declarative manner. Instruments roar in singer stretches and vocalizes to meet them with provocative lyrics. Brotzmann is hardly fazed and blows with gusto, while the guitar glides in to engage with billowing gales of saxophone, slowly fading into feedback. Vocals sound threatening on "A Gentleman's Gentleman" as the band kicks in fast and hard, framing the stuttering vocals. Brotzmann finds a slot and fits right in, creating an exciting fast pace, where steep bass and drums ride with guitar and saxophone roaring alongside them. The sound scales back to give the vocalist room to speak then fades out. "Over" builds a slower and more spacious opening with dark toned tenor saxophone. The intensity is turned up gradually, as the vocalist and guitar enter. The vocalist is overwhelmed for some epic full band interplay, he's just moaning vocalizing amid towering saxophone and electric guitar. Soundscapes open for the vocalist to actually sing, which he does with stark emotion. Guitar and ripe saxophone frame strong singing on "Over," with high marks for the bass and drums which can change on a dime. Band works as one tight unit through changing rhythms and moods at will. Subtle guitar and bass set up "Host" with vocals and coy saxophone allows the vocals to blossom, plaintive sounding backed by lower volume saxophone and guitar. The band starts to ramp up in volume, building a choppier rhythm of coiled intensity and then takes off with righteous tenor saxophone and electric guitar leading the charge. "The Valley (Encore)" starts slowly, with patterns building and the singer quietly developing his words. Brotzmann rises up and begins to pontificate framing the singer and clearing the ground before him. Brotzmann plays some of his rawest saxophone, then stops dramatically on the the lyrics "quiet, quiet..." The full band sounding heavy and sludgy from the bottom to the roiling top of electric guitar and tenor saxophone, finishes this excellent set in grand fashion. An Eternal Reminder of Not Today / Live at Moers - bandcamp.com

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