Published Apr 07, 2014The roster of musicians on this release reads like a who's who of contemporary avant improv heavies. Guitarists Joe Morris and Mary Halvorson, drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist Chris Lightcap have all made serious inroads into the development of the music. Jamie Saft on organ and keys has also established a solid rep in his many collaborations, as well for having been one of the standout greats with John Zorn's Electric Masada. So with all this weight brought to bear on a session, one might predict a robust and varied collection of strong improvisatory exploration, yes?
Well, not quite. The music can be summed up pretty much as being at a loss for words. Saft's organ tends to vary between drone clusters and R&B riffs with occasional keyboard sprinkles, as on "Plymouth." The guitarists roam around in distorted/clean line playing or the occasional short loop, while the rhythm section tries gamely to create some coherence throughout. Unfortunately the 13- to 30-minute tracks lack the clear direction and thematic coherence that informs the best of free improvisation and at times descends into some pretty muddy noodling. If the intention was to create trance/noise density, then the same critique applies, as the sonic fields are relegated to predictable dynamic swells and generally static ennui, without the drama or tension. (Rare Noise)