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House Band of the Universe: Cycle Two

Dan McClenaghan By

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Cycle Two is all "spontaneously composed," and you sit and listen to it and get the feeling these guys have somehow established a kind of musical conduit to the cosmos. Well, it is the House Band of the Universe. It's one of the more difficult, if not impossible, sounds to categorize. With a seeming suspension of time (oddly since there are two drummers involved) the music drifts and wanders, taking what feels like a preordained path of least resistance. The inevitable path: the path the the laws of physics requires. I'm reminded at times of Miles Davis's In a Silent Way when the keys shimmer; or Ornette on his less frantic pieces, like "Beauty is a Rare Thing" off This is Our Music, or some of the downtempo tunes from Sound Museum. But there's no Ornette alto crying out here, though Dave Storrs breaks out the trombone on the opening cut. He sings at times, fairly low in the mix, a la Keith Jarrett, with a more joyous feeling than Jarrett's deranged-sounding vocalizations.

Drummers Storrs and Mike Klobas lay down delicate textures, pianist Mark Bjorklund lurks, inserting interludes of ephemeral melody, and Page Hundemer provides one of the more distinctive bottom ends, sometimes guitar-like, sometimes with the contained intensity of a deep underwater sound that vibrates your marrow and shakes your soft internal organs around. And somtimes—I note, as I listen to "Universal Club"—it sounds pretty, a nearly mainstream piano trio with an added drummer, but these pretty sounds break apart and veer off toward Cecil Taylor-like chaos.

With Cycle Two the House Band of the Universe takes you into an uncharted territory of cosmic folk songs. This is definitely not for those who crave structured song-smithing, but if the ear is open and the spirit willing to accept the unexpected, it is an oddly entrancing sound.

Track Listing: Oba Dap Dap, Wholey Afternoon, BUBBLES, Walks in the Park, Changes of Pace, Bumpacoat, To Tell, Hopportunity, Universal Club

Personnel: Mark Bjorklund--piano, keys, electronic percussion, Page Hundemer--bass, loops, Mike Klobas--drums; Dave Storrs--drums, keys, trombone

Title: Cycle Two | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Louie Records


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