Chicago Underground Duo Axis and Alignment

Chad Taylor and Rob Mazurek keep up a hectic pace in their duos, trios and whatnot, and Thrill Jockey is happy to release the results of whatever configuration suits them. The CUD have increasingly emphasised the electronic side to their music over the last few years, not just in Mazurek's electronics but in the broader compositional sense. Credit is due producer John McIntyre as anyone else - the bass sounds awesome. It's hard to think of any jazz-oriented release where the bass has sounded as heavy as a club mix yet still lets the music breathe. As for the jazz content, Mazurek is the main contributor, with Don Cherry-like blasts throughout. Taylor's vibes sound more deliberate than ever, but again, when the emphasis is on exact sonics and just-so polyrhythms, he sounds great. Both purists and avant-gardists might have a problem with these guys' chops; this is definitely not a record of virtuosi. Most tracks are composed or processed to a fault, making it an unapologetic electronic album. Damned if these guys aren't combining acoustic and electronic compositional styles better than anything on Thirsty Ear or Aum Fidelity. (Thrill Jockey)