July 9, 2019
Gotta Let it Out GLIO 39 CD
Dealing with the rhythmic adjustments caused when substituting an electric for a stand-up bass in an improvised setting is a specialized art, but one with which younger players face with comparative ease. Consider for instance the programs of these trios named for the band members, which coincidentally match two Americans and two Europeans.
More established of the two is Rempis/Stadhouders/Rosaly, which first convened about a decade ago when Chicago-based saxophonist Dave Rempis and drummer Frank Rosaly added Dutch guitarist/electric bassist Jasper Stadhouders to their band. The string player also plays in Cactus Truck, while the Americans are involved in panoply of other groups. Far newer is the Faust/Dahl/Walter, which links Copenhagen-based Estonian alto saxophonist Maria Faust with Brooklyn-based electric bassist Tom Dahl and drummer Weasel Walter. While the saxophonist has been prominent with large and small Improv-Jazz groups, the others who together have played in Lydia Lunch’s Retrovirus, are involved in a variety of Jazz, and Punk bands.
Punk’s speed and challenges are part of Farm Fresh’s 10 Faust compositions, but none of its instrumental amateurism. Even Dahl, whose main employer is the noise-rock Child Abuse band, hammers out a thumping bass line that is rhythmically supple as well as head-banging. Similarly Walter’s hard-driving crunches never move into mere pounding when creating appropriate sounds which balance the saxophonist’s tempo spanning double tonguing and desiccated reed runs. However, while the trio is perfectly capable of creating a James Chance-meets-fuzz tone showcase like “I Am a Little Farmer Girl”, the antithesis is there as well. Tracks such as “Primurdial” and “Cows Pigs” are more attuned to low-key story telling. On the first Faust wiggles out a mid-range circular line backed by sluicing bass lines and drum pops; and on the second the rhythm section’s tandem clinks and rattles amplify mercurial reed oscillations that are half-frisky-dance-like and half emotional cries. The trio can also create a reductionist program as it does on “Gone Modern Harvest”, with Faust sweetly outlining the melody alongside electric bass mewls and burrowing reverb from Walter that suggests vibes, steel drums and tempered glass. Soaring upwards on others as well as the title track, Faust best defines the session by exposing a cerebral undercurrent in her thought process even as she elongates the exposition with pointed slurs and vibrations.
Horizontal interpretations are more prominent on ICOCI’s two extended improvisations, with Stadhouders alternating between guitar and electric bass. The lower-pitched instrument is usually confined to continuum provider, but sometimes advances repeated sinewy smacks. Interspaced are guitar runs, which extend from the showiness of arena-Rock-like excess with flanged distortions and slanging knob-twisting all the way down to microtonal clunks. Rosaly too follows every twist and turn of the expositions with virtuosic code switching. He’s as comfortable creating an understated shuffle beat as escalating to furious bangs, ruffs and rebounds, the better to connect with Rempis’ changeable strategies. Moving from alto to tenor saxophone and back again, Rempis’ output can be tough, tender, speedy or languid or fluctuate among all of them. He can change course in an eye blink or eases along the theme structure. At points his irregularly vibrated split tones can be as in-your-face and rambunctious as anything produced by New Thing era sax blowers. Then on the other hand, midway through “IIOII” for example he suddenly squeezes shaking puffs from his horn into atom-sized units. And he’s as expressive with these reed manipulations as he is at louder volumes. Still that piece ends by knitting jangling slams from Stadhouders, parade-ground-like press rolls from Rosaly and altissimo tone-shredding from the saxophonist. Vibrations, reverberations, jiggles and squeak from all three are present on that tune and the slightly briefer “OIIO”. Additionally ICOCI projects more calm in its unfolding sequences that make up longer improvisations. While that means space is made for more regular drum clanks, vibrating reed timbres and supple string striations each approach is equally valid.
Think of Faust/Dahl/Walter as producing Free Music short stories and Rempis/Stadhouders/Rosaly as novella creators. The appeal of one shouldn’t stand in the way of appreciating the other – or both.
Track Listing: Farm: Kulak 2. Helvede Sild 3. Primurdial 4. Farm Fresh 5. Waterloo Boy N
6. Virgin Lands 7. Cows Pigs 8. I Am a Little Farmer Girl 9. Gone Modern Harvest
10. Shepherd Song
Personnel: Farm: Maria Faust (alto saxophone); Tom Dahl (electric bass) and Weasel Walter (drums)
Track Listing: ICOCI: 1. IIOII 2. OIIO
Personnel: ICOCI: Dave Rempis (alto and tenor saxophones); Jasper Stadhouders (guitar and electric bass) and Frank Rosaly (drums)