Until last year you would be hard pressed to get your hands on any historic recording by this European free improv trio. Peter Brötzmann, Han Bennink, and Fred Van Hove originally appeared on the German FMP label in 1970 with Balls,
finally reissued last year by Atavistic's Unheard Music Series. They picked up Albert Mangelsdorff for a live recording in 1971, then returned to the studio as a trio in 1973 for this self-titled release, returned to circulation as FMP130.
Each of these three players has a decidedly self-confident, assertive style, and that's what makes the combination work. Hard-blowing to this day, German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann has always been known as an energetic player, regularly crossing over the border into overblown noise. He's counterbalanced here by two zany comrades: drummer Han Bennink, a staccato player with a seemingly endless penchant for the absurd; and pianist Fred Van Hove, who introduces a sense of the familiar but isn't afraid to make excursions into outer territory as well.
In many ways FMP130 will not surprise listeners familiar with these players, each an icon in the music. Brötzmann reaches deep into his horn to bring forth sharply ridged overtones, whether blunt eructations from the bottom of his horn or shrill cries out of the top. By the time you get through the second of these ten tracks, you've heard him play the instrument wrong in just about every way. But no matter: he's alternately supported and challenged by Bennink (tweeting along on "selfmade clarinet" or clattering away on the drums), tricked and toyed with by Van Hove (caught up in postmodern leaps between music box sweetness and atonal punchiness).
In addition to the expected outbursts, FMP130 has its share of games and surprises. Van Hove's use of the celeste has a sense of childlike innocence; he brings back days of old on the piano with a blues shuffle on "Wir Haven Uns Folgendes berlegt," only to be eased out by Bennink (presumably) generating an extended fart-like noise somewhere between Tuvan throat singing and an underwater bird call. Br?ötzmann joins in (playing relatively cleanly) and the weirdness spills over into the next track.
More roiling intensity down the road, bracketed by periods of relative calm, if not order. In some sense all these statements are consistent: they declare, "Hey! Look at me!" It's your choice, but there's really no point in disobeying. This one is half goofy, half insane.