Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis
has recorded thirty albums as a leader and more than another thirty as a sideman. Best known for his own Rempis Percussion Quartet and the Vandermark Five, the free jazz legend teams up with guitarist Tashi Dorji and drummer Tyler Damon, under the name Kuzu. Purple Dark Opal
is their third release, following Hiljaisuus
(Astral Spirits, 2018) and Lift To Drag
(Medium Sound, 2019) which was only released on cassette.
Dorji was raised in Bhutan, in the Himalayas, and has been living in North Carolina since 2000. His unconventional approach to the guitar takes listeners through a maze of soundscapes; wild improvisations appear like pop-ups in unnerving stillness. Dorji and Damon have released four duo albums in a vein similar to Purple Dark Opal
. Damon is a Chicago-based artist who operates his own label, Yoke, and had hosted a free-form/experimental radio program called "Melody Unasked For" in Bloomington, Indiana.
Rempis and company like extended improvisation. Their debut consisted of three long ones, Lift To Drag
, two, and Purple Dark Opal
, just one fifty-five minute marathon. It is a live workout for the band, recorded at a 2018 concert in Milwaukee. It is a workout for the listener as well. "To The Quick" opens with a three-minute drum solo, joined by Rempis playing serpentine lines around Damon. When Dorji's guitar enters, its sound is alien, between a gentle hum and an angry hornet. With that, Rempis' sax seems to take flight in pursuit and the guitar morphs into a more natural form. Not yet a quarter of the way in, all hell breaks loose. At intervals the music rests, breathes, then explodes again, eventually drifting into an unearthly haze. Purple Dark Opal
requires multiple listens to absorb its various elements. On the initial run-through, it is exhausting, feeling like an immersion course in an extra-terrestrial language. It is music which overlaps free improvisation, rock, industrial noise, drone, and less identifiable elements. Purple Dark Opal
is for audacious listeners and it isn't like anything else.
To The Quick.
Dave Rempis: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Tyler Damon: drums; Tashi Dorji: guitar.