Pulsarus: Bee Itch

Glenn Astarita By

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When discussing progressive jazz contexts, let us not forget our brothers and sisters in Poland who have been riding the cutting-edge schema for decades, evidenced by pianists Adam Makowicz, Marcin Wasilewski, trumpeter Tomasz Stanko and other notables of the global jazz and improvising network. However, the young For Tune record label highlights fledgling talent and seasoned vets who may not be household names in the West. Hence, Pulsarus is a prime of example of a band that ventures outside the box. Formed in 2003, the acoustic-electric group features Dominik Strycharski's use of the recorder-like blockflute to link copious additives and bizarre effects into the big picture.

Interestingly enough, the ensemble launches the album with John Lennon's "Imagine." During the onset, soft horns shape the primary theme, but as the album progresses, the musicians execute a horde of off-center contrasts and bursting choruses along with experimental episodes. Strycharski's blockflute work is apt to affix a festive touch and eerie overtones into certain passages that uncannily sound electronically treated. The ensemble's restless spirit shines on a per-track basis as they pursue odd-metered conceptualizations and soundscapes, etched with expressionistic improvisational segments and avant-garde jazz interludes. But they often slam matters into the ozone via brute force soloing, layered passages, brash horns arrangements and ominous progressions.

"Isogriv 2" commences with Stefan Orins' lower-register Fender Rhodes phrasings, steeped in a slow tempo groove, dappled with oddball background treatments, echoing horns and airy flutes. Here, they emit a foreboding vista; although the artists often intersperse gravelly dissonance with heavy metal jazz imagery amid bold works such as "Isogrov 3," that boast zany improvisational tactics and convey a shock and awe mindset. In sum, listening to this ensemble is a stirring experience that should excite the hearts and minds of jazz enthusiasts who yearn for something that goes against the grain, augmented by a highly entertaining form-factor.

Track Listing: Imagine; Guff; Isogriv 1; Bathetic; Isogriv 2; Ataraxia; Baobab; Rotfl; Isogriv 3; Hieratic; Isogriv 4.

Personnel: Dominik Strycharski: soprano, alto & tenor blockflutes; Tomasz Dąbrowski: trumpet,Balkan horn; Aleksander Papierz: alto saxophone; Ray Dickaty: tenor saxophone; Stefan Orins: electric piano; Jacek Mazurkiewicz: double bass; Jakub Rutkowski: drums.

Title: Bee Itch | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: For Tune


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