Jim Black / Alas No Axis: Houseplant (2009)
Tenor saxophonist Chris Speedoccasionally takes the edge off during these largely, thrusting straight-four works, where the literal implications of hybrid jazz-rock underscore the sequence of events. Guitarist Hilmar Jensson's polytonal textures come to light with his sometimes, jangling chord voicings and sweeping rock-based progressions. The program is spotted with climactic motifs, but Black's comps are also designed with catchy riffs and memorable melodies. Yet the band executes a crash-and-burn groove via Jensson's acid-rock lines and Speed's off-kilter excursions on "Malomice."
The musicians intermittently temper the intensity level with introspective phrasings and movements, evidenced on "Elight, for example." And they render warm overtones amid Jensson's twangy phrasings in concert with the drummer's nappy pulse during "Lowers In A Nine Sense." Nonetheless, Black is the accelerator, along with bassist Skuli Sverrisson's limber and pumping attack. Once again, the leader and his comrades uncannily merge a cheery vibe with modern jazz improvisation and hardcore rock parameters that nicely blend into one neatly wrapped package.
Track Listing: Inkionos; Cahme; Houseplant; Fyr; Malomice; Little; Elight; Naluch; Cadmium Waits; Adbear; Lowers In a Nine Sense; Downstrum.
Personnel: Chris Speed: tenor saxophone; Hilmar Jensson: guitars; Skuli Sverrisson: basses; Jim Black: drums.
Record Label: Winter & Winter
Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock