Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Black Motor - Vaarat Vastukset (Dreamsheep CD)

Just published at Foxy Digitalis:

Given the menacing group name and the cover’s dour processional, I’ve got to say I expected a little more doom and gloom from Black Motor. And while much of the music here does have a chaotic and somewhat sorrowful slant, it is done so in a more refined and traditionally bluesy angle as the unit explores the six original compositions within.

In fact, Black Motor has little to do with Black Sabbath or Motorhead and everything to do with “Yasmina, a Black Woman.” A trio comprised of Sami Sippola, Ville Rauhala and Simo Laihonen, the group pushes the boundaries of post post-fire improvisational discourse on this disc, mixing equal parts AACM, Albert Ayler and Pharaoh Sanders while infusing their sound with a textural, ritualistic approach that manages to carve out their own corner in the free jazz world.

One of the units main strengths is their willingness to pull at will from any number of instruments. Ranging from the expected (tenor sax, double bass, drums, voice) to the underused (bells, gong, bamboo flutes) the group explores an open and fertile dialogue driven by more by mood than mode. Perhaps this is no more clearly visible than on the opening “Yksi Sinulta Puutuu,” whose gentle bamboo flutes begin the album atop clattering chimes and a scraping double-bass. It’s an odd combination of sounds, the flute as smooth and fragile as it is and the bass as grating, but each addition serves to amount into a confusing playfulness underlined by Sippola’s screeching sax utterances.

Elsewhere the group explores more overtly melodic material, as with “Aamen,” whose saxophone line sounds like a military call that walks the line between Ornette Coleman’s momentum and Ayler’s own marching excursions. At times his tone even resembles early Gato Barbieri, raspy and deep but nimble as well as it bounces along atop Rauhala and Laihonen’s explosive rhythmic backing.

On the closing “Vainila,” the group once again highlights their strength for subtly stretching improvisational vocabulary as a snaking bass squeal writhes above a dancing drum rhythm and sax bellow. For a group like this it’s tough to say anything new, and indeed this is hardly a redefinition of the forms they’re working in. But these players have such simpatico and are so well versed in their dialogue that it’s tough not to forget how much fun and how listenable this kind of music can be. It is this ability to intermix the more interesting explorative sound excursions with strong compositional material that positions Black Motor as an important and under-known presence in today’s free jazz community.

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