Big Satan Souls Saved Hear

The latest project to feature New York avant-garde saxophonist extraordinaire, Tim Berne, is a collaborative affair with the horrendous name Big Satan. But there are no speed-metal guitars or shouting at the devil to be found here. The busy guitar fretwork of Marc Ducret and masterful drumming of Tom Rainey (both veterans of Berne’s Science Friction Band) are hot as embers and provide just the right platform for Berne to let loose on the alto and summon up all kinds of spirits. The effect is something like the Lounge Lizards meeting with Mahavishnu Orchestra — a seriously tense affair that’s also very busy and elaborate. The beautifully disparate landscape photography of Robert Lewis makes for a valuable addition to the album’s package and only serves to thematically strengthen the trio’s tendency to lash out. Though it is rather slickly produced, Souls Saved Hear is still quite jarring in its dynamism and another winner for Berne’s consistently growing discography. (Thirsty Ear)