It is difficult to imagine a Ballister recording having its origins in any setting other than a live performance. The trio of saxophonist Dave Rempis, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love fuels each performance with the audience's energy on all their recordings, including Chrysopoeia, their tenth. Not that the trio could not produce their music in a studio setting, it is just the intensity of their free jazz performances would not contain the fevered eruptions available to the music from a live setting.
This recording comes from Kraków's club Alchemia, in October of 2019. It is a space and an audience familiar to all three musicians, for Rempis and Lonberg-Holm with the Vandermark 5, and for Nilssen-Love with Mats Gustafsson and Peter Brötzmann.
The recording consists of two lengthy sets. "Strapling" kicks off with the flash-bang of overblown saxophone, turbulent drumming, and frenzied bow work. It is as if the three are gunning their engines to chase any nonbelievers from the club. The music settles into a familiar pattern. The trio having stunned the listener with their opening, switches into Nilssen-Love's slow burning groove with Lonberg-Holm firing Jimi Hendrix-like energy rays from his cello. As Rempis joins, the mood shifts into a bluesy promenade and, as the pace picks up, so does the intensity. The trio's brilliance is their management of energy. Individual solos act as something of a reprieve from the onslaught. Rempis' floating gentle notes over Lonberg-Holm's electronics, or Nilssen-Love's micro exploration of the pulse, act as compelling pieces and parts of the whole. "Muffit" begins as a quiet reflection, a cello solo is tracked by Rempis' saxophone before the drums urge the music towards a stomping march. As the intensity ratchets up, the trio gains energy like a supercell storm which could turn into an F5 tornado. Not to fear, Ballister has everything under control.