Sloth Racket

Dismantle Yourself
Luminous LU 011


The Double

Fancy Music 135

Brother acts are nothing new in the music word. In Jazz alone there have been the Dodds Brothers, the Adderley Brothers, the Heath Brother and the Bauer Brothers to name a few. Often the reason for family members playing together is the intuition that comes from learning and practicing music at the same time. The concept isn’t a universal nostrum, but certainly the high quality of these sibling CDs is helped by familial connections.

A new disc by the UK’s Sloth Racket, Dismantle Yourself is actually kept together by contributions from guitarist Anton Hunter and drummer Johnny Hunter. Bassist Seth Bennett and saxophonists Sam Andreae (alto), and Cath Roberts (baritone), the last of whom wrote the date’s five compositions, complete the group. More upfront, are the brothers on The Double, Russians Pyotr Petyaev, a tenor saxophonist who is also a painter and guitarist Pavel Petyaev. Bass guitarist Ivan Bashilov plays on all tracks, with the trio joined by trumpeter Karina Horhordina and drummer Viktor Tikhonov for four tracks, while pianist Fedor Amirov and drummer Sergey Balashov are on another four.

There’s no neat division between plucky and pastoral with the two quintets, though one give away is that Horhordina and Tikhonovare listed as adding “noises” to their playing. A track such as “Russian Moan” for instance is suffused with Tartar grit issuing from Pyotr Petyaev’s reed snarls and toughened with staccato trumpet cries and chiming guitar fills that infer rugged balalaika-like timbres. As the bass guitar and drums clatter continuum on the bottom, the top line is characterized by double-tonguing saxophone multiphonics and a wavering tremolo tone from the trumpeter almost as powerful as the stuttering bugle-like blasts the brass player brings to other tracks. One of them is “Parts”, which is introduced with top-of-range trumpet screeches, distorted guitar frails and biting intensity from the saxophonist. Climaxing with upwards brass flutters, percussion swats and pressurized reed snarls, a calming middle section of conga drum-like slaps from Tikhonovare leads to a finale that melds saxophone quacks and trumpet peeps with abrasive rumbles from the electric bass and drums.

Pyotr Petyaev’s tendency to overblow and honk – which suggests Big Jay McNeely as much as Albert Ayler – maintains the frenetic groove on those four selections that also feature pianist Amirov and drummer Balashov. Traffic horn-replicating saxophone blasts, pedal-emphasized piano sweeps and reverberation guitar feedback on “Crawling from Happiness” set up the template, which is maintained throughout. “Burzum in Gurzuf," the concluding track may be more claustrophobic with pressurized plucks from Pavel Petyaev and thicker, more conventional piano chording. Yet the saxophonist’s split tones and spetrofluctuation open it up enough so the result is ambulatory as well as atonal.

Extended reed techniques are multiplied with Sloth Racket as two saxophonists split tone vamps define the program. Although Andreae’s strategy is usually to aim for distended and disintegrating higher pitches and Roberts to settle into studied low-pitched surges, the gap between the two helps define the quintet’s sound. Additionally those hints of Metal alluded to by the Petyaev crew are even more pronounced on Dismantle Yourself. The CD’s tough title track for example begins with an overriding riff that could as easily be slammed out by Black Sabbath as played by Peter Brötzmann’s Machine Gun-era octet. Tandem sax trilling and undulations establish the exposition, helped by Johnny Hunter’s backbeat ruffs and fuzz-tone intensity from Anton Hunter. Later tremolo vibrations are expelled in lockstep from the saxophones so that by the ending, defining organ-like harmonies are created as the piece’s forward motion slackens into silence. “Butterfly Tales the Train” is the interregnum between the preceding track and the final “Terraforming”, and has enough baritone sax snarls, guitar twangs and a pumping double bass ostinato to set up the explosive ending. A continuation and culmination of all that precedes it, the expansive sequence introduces a slinky R&B-like motif that animates the background so that chiming guitar runs, tongue-slapping and aviary reed bites color but don’t disrupt the horizontal narrative as it moves to a convincing conclusion.

It’s not the defining element on either session, but brotherly cooperation helped make these discs instances of up-to-date free music from east and west.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Double: 1. Ritual Stone* 2. Russian Moan* 3. On High Tones* 4. Parts* 5. Equability# 6. Crawling from Happiness# 7. Senators# 8. Lermontov# 9. Burzum in Gurzuf#

Personnel: Double: Carina Khorkhordina* (trumpet, noises); Pyotr Petyaev (tenor saxophone); Feodor Amirov# (piano); Pavel Petyaev (guitar); Ivan Bashilov (bass guitar); Victor Tihonov* (drums, noise machine) or Sergei Balashov# (drums)

Track Listing: Dismantle 1. Proximity Warning 2. We Decide What’s Next 3. Dismantle Yourself

4. Butterfly Tales the Train 5, Terraforming

Personnel: Dismantle: Sam Andreae (alto saxophone); Cath Roberts (baritone saxophone); Anton Hunter (guitar); Seth Bennett (bass); Johnny Hunter (drums)