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Big Satan: Souls Saved Hear (2004)

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Big Satan: Souls Saved Hear No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Exorcising the demons with the fire and brimstone of a revivalist meeting, Souls Saved Hear marks the ferocious return of saxophonist Tim Berne's Big Satan. At just under 48 minutes — the longest piece just over ten — it is somewhat diminutive within Berne's catalog. But the taut arrangements distill the power of the performances. Focused on intensity, Berne, along with guitarist Marc Ducret and drummer Tom Rainey, unleashes a musical torrent that threatens to overwhelm.

Ducret's supple acoustic guitar opens "Ce Sont Les Noms Des Mots," almost antithetically to what follows. The piece builds momentum, with Ducret and Berne trading statements. For emphasis, producer David Torn allows the horn to echo, adding additional sonic color and a touch of drama. Guitar noises and skittering drums introduce "Hostility Suite," a frenetic tune that has Berne hanging on notes and bleating short phrases, before the tune melts to a spacious conclusion. "Geez" is another spry tune, with Berne and Ducret's parts becoming tightly wound together as Rainey whips them along. He does it again on "Rampe," locking into a chunky groove with Ducret's snarling bottom-end sound, allowing Berne's horn to slink through the spaces. The sax-guitar duet of "Emportez-moi" offers a brief respite, before Rainey's solo statement introduces "Deadpan," a stuttering Berne piece that hints at themes before fully stating them. The tune boasts intense exchanges between the drummer and his partners individually, and erupts when all three converge. After a kinetic intro, "Mr. Subliminal" features Berne's insistent horn, before Ducret joins him for snake-charming effect. A Torn remix and recombination concludes the CD, and suggests how deep the musical mine runs.

Despite the overlap of players with other Berne projects, Big Satan has a collective identity of its own, with each member contributing compositions, and has built a tight interplay over time.

Track Listing: Ce Sont les Noms des Mots; Hostility Suite; Geez; Rampe; Emportez-Moi; Deadpan; Mr. Subliminal; Property Shark; Plantain Surgery.

Personnel: Tim Berne: Alto Sax; Marc Ducret: Guitar; Tom Rainey: Drums.

Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings

Style: Modern Jazz


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