Ingrid Laubrock's trajectory through the music reflects her choice of home. German-born, when she resided in London she was producing Latin jazz, but that proved to be only a passing phase. By the time of Forensic
(F-IRE, 2004), it was clear that she was more intent on carving out an idiosyncratic space of her own. Now, having moved to New York, she's dealing exclusively in more demanding music, as this release exemplifies.
Laubrock's Sleepthief trio produced one of the best albums of 2008, Sleepthief
(Intakt Records). By comparison, the music on Anti-House
lacks that album's extraordinary cohesion, but does have merits of its own. "Quickdraw" is one, with Laubrock's garrulous tenor sax layered over a kind of skewed funk, with Mary Halvorson
's take on guitarist James Blood Ulmer
's approach showing another facet of her artistry.
It's a shame, however, that the likes of "Messy Minimum" and "Is Life Anything like this" don't get the chance to unfold in the same way. For all of its brief duration, "Messy Minimum" tantalizes in the passing reference it delivers, of how stimulating a trio Laubrock, Halvorson and bassist John Hébert can be, with a cohesiveness that harks back to Sleepthief. Pianist Kris Davis
contributes greatly to the realization of "Is Life Anything like this," but brevity, once again, works against it, its promising foreboding over all-too-soon.
"Big Bang" is a collective primal screamall 55 seconds of it. However, the title of the following "Big Crunch" seems incongruous, given its reflective nature; the music proceeds by stealth, with Laubrock putting just enough breath into some of her notes to make them audible.
By comparison with a lot of Anti-House
, "Tom Can't Sleep" is both straight-ahead and playful, with drummer Tom Rainey
moving easily between glockenspiel and kit. The fact that it is has these qualities however sums up the set overall. For all of the undoubtedly stimulating music offered and it's nothing if not the sound of musicians intent on carving out their own identitiesthe discontinuities have the effect of diluting that laudable effort. Laubrock's now sufficiently inside the music for that not to be an issue, but it can make for frustrating listening.
Slowfish Glowfish; Flowery Prison Cell; Messy Minimum; Quick Draw; Funhouse Glockwork; Tex & Clementine; Anti-House; Is Life Anything Like This; Big Bang; Big Crunch; Betterboon; Tom Can't Sleep; Oh Yes; Mona Lisa Trampoline.
Ingrid Laubrock: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Mary Halvorson: guitar; John Hébert: bass; Tom Rainey: drums, glockenspiel. Guest: Kris Davis: piano.