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Dave Rempis: Chrysopoeia


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Dave Rempis: Chrysopoeia
Recorded at Krakow's legendary Alchemia just two days before Znachki Stilyag (Aerophonic Records, 2020), on the same European tour, the power trio Ballister comprising saxophonist Dave Rempis, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, demonstrates an astonishing level of consistency in terms of both energy and excellence. Chrysopoeia constitutes the triumvirate's tenth release over some dozen years of existence, one which confirms that time and familiarity yield multiple benefits.

While two pieces well in excess of the 20-minute marker might seem daunting in some hands, these three protagonists are masters of such long form on-the-fly creation. Nilssen-Love continues to amass a rhythmic lexicon which, when united with his ear for textural complexity, results in a seemingly endless variety of both light and shade which covers the bottom end so comprehensively the bass is never missed. It also frees up Lonberg-Holm, who has carved out a niche in such no-holds-barred threesomes, courtesy of his work with Peter Brötzmann and Joe McPhee. Thanks to his array of electronics, his cello leans closer towards electric guitar than bass with his horn-like arco, subliminal growl and scuzzy effects.

Rempis remains a ridiculously assured improviser. Here on alto and tenor saxophones, he excites and emotes in equal measure, as skirling cries rub shoulders with post bop licks. On each track they hit the expected peaks, but attain them via unforeseen ascents. As an example, there's a point on "Muffit" where Lonberg-Holm joins Nilssen-Love's primal thud with mesmeric bowing, which in its imploring quality conjures echoes of such unanticipated byways as klezmer, Indian raga and native American ritual, before the mayhem commences.

Even then it's never an all out thrash. During the ultimate crescendo of "Strapling," Nilssen-Love maintains just a rolling simmer, raising the tension to almost unbearable heights, even as Rempis explodes in paroxysm of skronk while Lonberg-Holm saws feverishly, en route to a cathartic finale which elicits uproar from the audience. The compelling combination of controlled dynamics and head banging exhilaration should augur well for many more years yet.

Track Listing

Strapling; Muffit.


Dave Rempis.: saxophone; Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello; Paal Nilssen-Love: drums.

Album information

Title: Chrysopoeia | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Not Two Records

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