Kuzu: Purple Dark Opal

John Sharpe By

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Kuzu: Purple Dark Opal
Hard as it is to believe, the wonderful Hiljaisuus (Aerophonic, 2019) documented the first encounter between Chicago reedman Dave Rempis, North Carolina-based Bhutanese guitarist Tashi Dorji and drummer Tyler Damon, under the banner Kuzu. On the basis of that triumph, the musicians put together a twenty-date US tour. For their follow up release, Purple Dark Opal, they selected a blistering set-long piece from the fifteenth stop on that road trip in Milwaukee. As it's just shy of an hour,so best put out the cat, switch off the phone, crank up the volume and settle in for the duration. The payoff makes it time well spent.

Rempis brings the chops, imagination and intensity that one might expect from of one of the doyens of the free jazz saxophone, but does so with an awareness of the larger shape, as well as the savvy to sweeten his surging lines with the occasional lyrical tinge. Both Dorji and Damon, already an established pair with their own extensive discography, operate at the intersection of noise and improv, offering a range of unconventional textures in addition to blatant muscle.

Straight from the off, the unhurried swaying momentum generated by Damon's unaccompanied padding-modulated tones suggests what the rest of the disc confirms: that these guys are invested in the long ride and are the masters of attention to timbral detail within it. As Rempis and Dorji ease into a slow burn threnody, the needle flickers into the red. As always with this sort of music, the most interesting moments come before and after the cathartic peaks, although in this high octane fare, infused with a punkish energy, they too have their merits of course.

Roles remain fluid. As one voice assumes greater prominence, another falls back, creating a satisfying flow. Being well versed in each other's proclivities, episodes develop naturally and transitions are unforced. It might be a power trio, but it's one with sensitivity and egos in check. The musicians know when to pull back as well as when to open the throttle.

Just when it seems things can't get any more fraught, Damon drops out and the impetus dissipates like mist, leaving Rempis' fluttering key pads kept aloft by the merest tinkling chimes. But when Dorji adds clanking banjo-like guitar augmented by clattering drums and loose cymbals, Rempis unleashes a baritone howl and they are off again on the ascent of another far outcrop. And then towards the end, a return to the opening mood with another dirge-like passage gives a pleasing hint of overall form, before the final exhilarating dash. It's quite a journey.

Track Listing

To The Quick.


Dave Rempis: saxophone; Tashi Dorji: guitar; Tyler Damon: drums.

Album information

Title: Purple Dark Opal | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Aerophonic Records

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