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Album Review

Bobby Previte, Jamie Saft and Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century


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Bobby Previte, Jamie Saft and Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century
Music from the Early 21st Century presents music captured during a brief trio tour by keyboardist Jamie Saft, guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Bobby Previte, performing completely improvised music. "Fundamentally, it's based around the classic organ trio formation—drums, Hammond organ and guitar," Saft explains. "But it just blows up the language to so many different universes."

"Captured during a brief trio tour" doesn't do justice to this wild, ravenous sound. Trapped and caged like a snarling animal seems more like it.

Each track takes its inspiration from a colloquial expression that emerged in 21st century American English. Cline opens "The Extreme Present" by banging the chords to "Sgt. Pepper" together like clanging metal pots, calling out Saft's sheets of thick and heavy chords. Guitar and keyboard jointly veer off into their own solo directions, until Cline's guitar finally settles into a blues groove line that quickly swirls into a blizzard of white sound. "Totes" doesn't open as much as it seems to float, with Cline worrying his guitar strings like an anxious person does their fingernails until all three musicians blissfully settle into the same glistening chord, knitting the music tightly together in rare unified time. "The Extreme Present" is also an excellent description of how Saft, Previte, and Cline recorded this set.

Previte sets up a solid drum floor to prop up "Paywall," a sturdy spot from which Cline and Saft trade hard and heavy guitar and keyboard riffs, fracturing the music's surface into overlapping ripples. Previte, Saft and Cline do an amazing job with spacing in such dense music, keeping out of but still connecting to the other sounds like you're listening to two or even three separate pieces of music that sometimes intersect to create a completely new thing.

The closing "Flash Mob" sounds like an after-hours party hosted by the machines in a shuttered video game arcade. The trio opens with a bit of straight funk, with Previte thumping out the drum heartbeat, Saft belching out keyboard basslines like heartburn, and Cline chopping out guitar to keep the beat moving. Halfway in, "Flash Mob" falls apart, leaving each instrument to wander until organ cues the closing and all three instrumental sounds wander safely home.

"If you've improvised for many years, that music can be spontaneous and exciting and deep. It can visit countries that one could never write down in one's wildest imagination," Previte suggests. "Once the three of us got together, it was obvious that this band discovered a territory that has not been well explored."

Track Listing

Photobomb; Paywall; Parkour; The Extreme Present; Totes; Occession; The New Weird; Machine Learning; Woke; Flash Mob.


Bobby Previte: drums; Jamie Saft: piano; Nels Cline: guitar, electric.

Album information

Title: Music from the Early 21st Century | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: RareNoiseRecords

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