An unchanged line up on the eighth release from saxophonist Dave Rempis' Percussion Quartet signals a generous helping of rowdy energy and inspired oratory. As the name implies, the drums loom large with two distinctive practitioners in Tim Daisy on the left and Frank Rosaly on the right well separated in the mix (from information supplied by Rempis, not on the sleeve), fuelling the leader's stratospheric flights. Bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, well-known as one third of The Thing and a fixture since his relocation Stateside, completes the roster. They prove in fearsome form over three collective cuts, the shortest clocking in at just short of the eight minute mark, the longest over half an hour.
By now the foursome are masters at maintaining an arc of tension over such extended improvisation. What's remarkable is how they sustain the invention without repeating themselves. Partly that's down to the dynamic spontaneous gear shifts which they have down to a tee. While Rempis naturally leads from the front, it's noticeable how often Håker Flaten instigates the changes. Examples of both instances occur on the extensive "Straggler." After a conversational opening, Rempis starts the immolation himself, reiterating, broadening and building his phrases from gruff insistence to overblown testament to initiate a driving passage likely to unleash the listener's inner headbanger.
Later in the piece, Rempis' perky almost lyrical alto dances atop Daisy's tappy boogaloo while Håker Flaten layers feedback drones on electric bass. But when he switches to a flinty pizzicato proceedings take on a menacing glint, culminating in the reedman's anguished howls, over roiling drums. Here as elsewhere Daisy and Rosaly demonstrate their expertise to complement, contrast and co-ordinate, so that neither obscures what the other is doing. It's again Håker Flaten who is responsible for winding down the final twin drum tattoo, when he moves from a growling riff to more open figures.
"Green And Black" varies the pace as Rempis issues some heartfelt though abstract tenor balladry over a spiky backdrop. Once he subsides, Håker Flaten shows another facet of what he brings to the group with an individual feature on acoustic bass this time where he simultaneously combines hum and twang against Rosaly's rattling percussion. On the final "Enzymes," Rempis once again confirms his prodigious talent with a seemingly endless reservoir of ideas spun out in quick succession, before Håker Flaten embarks on another fine melodic outing and the sprightly cross rhythms zip between Daisy and Rosaly.
Straggler; Green And Black; Enzymes.
Dave Rempis: alto, tenor and baritone saxophones; Ingebrigt Håker Flaten: electric and acoustic bass; Tim Daisy: drums; Frank Rosaly: drums.
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