This is a disc you know you are going to love from the first sound of the pounding, kick-ass drums.
Garage is the third release by The Thing (a trio named after Don Cherry's seminal piece "The Thing"), following two hard-to-find releases on Swedish reed master Mats Gustafsson's now defunct Crazy Wisdom label ( The Thing , 2000 and with Joe McPhee, She Knows... , 2001). It consists of high-energy, slightly extended covers of left-of-center art/punk songs and free jazz gems. The Thing is Gustafsson, here on baritone and tenor saxophones, with one of the best rhythm sections active todayNorwegians Paal Nilssen-Love on drums, percussion and sampler; and Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten on double-bass; the rhythm section of Chicagoan Ken Vandermark's School Days, Finnish/American guitarist Raoul Björkenheim's Scorch Trio and the Norwegian-Swedish quintet Atomicadapting the garage rock aesthetic and breathing more life into songs than I thought was possible. You cannot but surrender to The Thing's heated energy.
Nilssen-Love's thunderous drumming is the perfect introduction to the opening cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' contempt-laden "Art Star," while Gustafsson's baritone saxophone fleshes the song's guitar riff with fiery playing. In the same vein, The Thing covers The White Stripes' "Aluminum," and Flaten outlines the simple chords on his buzzing bass, captured beautifully in an analog recording by engineer Kai Andersen. Robert Berry and The Sonics' sixties hit "Have Love Will Travel" is covered in a tongue-in-cheek mode, keeping the original raunchy, rhythmic drive while Gustafsson switches between a soulful tenor delivery of the song's chorus and soloing in the upper registers of the instrument.
The Thing opts to cover some obscure free jazz gems. The Thing selects the mysterious Norman Howard's "Haunted," which it already covered in a much longer version as a one-time incarnation of The Thing with School Days two years ago ( The Music of Norman Howard , Anagram, a limited-edition LP only, 2001). Howard played briefly with Albert Ayler and released only a cassette recording, and "Haunted" is covered in an uplifting Aylerian mode. Peter Brötzmann's "Eine Kleine Marschmusik," from his 1976 FMP album Solo, is covered in forceful, sometimes ironic upbeat mode.
The two originals, composed by all of the members of The Thing, present the trio in two modes: the more focused and tight drone of "Hey Flåsk," and the almost twelve-minute free improvisation of "Garage," where The Thing summarizes all its influences, from the fiery tradition of Ayler and Brötzmann to the reckless onslaught of punk rockers.
Garage is a clear example of why the term jazz is sometimes too reductive to such a free-minded unit. My only complaint is related the length of Garage why only 39 minutes of such noisy bliss?
Visit Paal Nilssen-Love and Ingerbrigt Håker Flaten on the web.