This Northern California powerhouse unit led by multi-woodwind ace Rent Romus commemorates 25-years in the business with a hard-hitting acoustic-electric jaunt featuring the core rhythm section and new addition, guitarist and violaist, Alex Cohen. Over the years, the collective has enjoyed a refreshing progression of shifting personnel. However, this album is grounded in avant-garde jazz fusion and free-form improvisation, where the artists enjoy ample space to engage in tumultuous dialogues and fluctuating currents during these energized performances.
The band is often bursting at the seams amid conceptual frameworks and boisterous romps such as "Ape of God," highlighted by Romus' weaving and darting sax improvisations. Whereas Cohen's frenetic single notes and fervent strumming imparts a sense of urgency on "Revenge of Trees," leading to an intense improv fest directed by Ray Schaeffer's forceful walking bass lines and drummer Philip Everett's slamming grooves.
The ensemble gels to some rowdy fast-paced free bop on "Systemic Fault," accelerated by Cohen's superspeed guitar licks and the rhythm section's blazing support, along with succinct unison choruses that reach a boiling point. Elsewhere, the musicians generate undulating motifs, yet Cohen picks up the viola on "Under the Mountain," abetting a topsy-turvy chain of events atop a theme that may foretell an air of social uncertainty. Although Romus' flute work on "Homeward Bound" produces a tribal effect steeped in an off- kilter world jazz setting, somewhat pressurized by Cohen's sweltering viola phrasings. Indeed, the artists' go full throttle, releasing an abundance of dynamic contrasts, largely paralleled by their invigorating interactions.
Grown out of Stone; Like Tears in Ice; Ape of God; A Glass Darky; Revenge of Trees; Systemic Fault; Dark
Wind; Under the Mountain; Call from the Deep; Homeward Bound.