Tim Berne/Science Friction The Sublime And

Of all the genre-busting projects Thirsty Ear has put out, this is one of their absolute highlights. Tim Berne, after developing a reputation as a premier energy player during the ’80s (when energy playing was not at all a popular style), has reconsidered his outlook in the last decade. The Sublime And is a brilliant realisation of everything he's been going for during the last several years, and is one of this year's best records. Berne's playing is somewhere between Sam Rivers and Maceo Parker as it moves effortlessly through many changes in songs as long as 30 minutes. Craig Taborn is one of the best electronic keyboardists working today. He has great pianistic chops, but is just as likely to improvise by texture, all the while providing the low end frequencies in this bass-less band. He maximises the potential of electronic instruments acting as both another instrumental voice in the conventional sense, or as an atmospheric component. Guitarist Marc Ducret often shadows Berne's lead lines, and echoes Taborn's ability to act as an instrument or texture. Drummer Tom Rainey creates grooves that expand on the kinds of rhythms Denardo (son of Ornette) Coleman or Thurman Barker pioneered. He's always compelling, utilising the whole kit to create a non-idiomatic groove. The Sublime And could be described as 21st century harmolodics. It's a successful marriage of rhythm, harmony and melody as well as texture, tempo and electronic/acoustic balance and a refusal to wade into easy grooves. Did I mention this was all recorded live, making these achievements all the more impressive? Buy this. (Thirsty Ear)