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The Chicago Underground Duo, made up of Rob Mazurek and Chad Taylor, has expanded and contracted from the two core members to alternately become the Chicago Underground Duo (which actually was a trio), Chicago Underground Trio (was sometimes a quartet), the Chicago Underground Quartet (was actually a quartet) and the Chicago Underground Orchestra (don't ask). This year's release finds the duo scaled back to just Mazurek and Taylor pushing ever outward into the nexus of jazz, electronics, and improvisation.
Their penultimate record, the eponymously titled Chicago Underground Quartet (2001), was perhaps their most ambitious session to date. The quartet added guitaritst Jeff Parker and Noel Kupersmith on bass to play music of a mostly compositional nature. Axis And Alignment returns to the duo's freeier work heard on the 2000 release Synesthesia. The disc opens with "Micro Exit," a vibraphone and muted trumpet, Hitchcock-like soundtrack piece. The album then falls into two definite patterns of shorter improvised tracks that act as samples from an artist's notebook and longer tracks that satisfy the need for a flowing vibe of storyline. The two and three minute tracks tend to be spacier ("Noon") and noisier ("Particle And Transfiguration"). The duo applies an economical use of electronics, as a simple looping beat on "Rotation" and the terrifying machine that shorts out on the clattery "Memoirs Of A Space Traveler." Taylor produces the varying beats, be they the thunder or the splashes of vibraphone color. As for Mazurek, his Don Cherry/Jon Hassell cornet conquers both open and muted free/world music. Their stripped-down duo minimal approach to music produces an apocalypse of sound
Track Listing: Micro Exit; Lifelines; Particle And Transfiguration; Exponent Red; Average Assumptions And Misunderstandings; Lem; Two Concepts For The Storagem Of Light; Memoirs Of A Space Traveller; Rotation; Access And Enlightenment; Noon.
Personnel: Chad Taylor: Percussion, Vibraphone, Guitar; Rob Mazurek: Cornet, Electronics, Piano.