Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Bent Spoon Trio + 3 - Dead Salems Dance in Their Ashtrays (Bug Incision Records CD-R)
An expanded version of the amorphous Bent Spoon lineup, this disc features mainstays Chris Dadge and Scott Monro alongside frequent associate David Laing (that's the Bent Spoon Trio lineup) PLUS bassist Thom Golub, guitar/electronics dude Jay Crocker, and tenor saxophonist Daniel Meichel (Golub on the last two tracks and the whole sextet on the last track only). The change in lineup means that this disc has some extrmeely different dimensions on it, moving from the trio tracks to a quartet and finally to a sextet. Nice to hear the consistency in approach and the broad variety of sounds culled from it, making this one feel more like some Archie Shepp Impulse! record in terms of approach.
Soundwise though, this is all Bent Spoon. The opener gets into some pretty grooving free jazz pockets from the start, eventually pittering out into some scrape and drape sound exploration that sees Munro's electronics taking center stage while fluttering reeds and Laing's alto sputter atop like some grandfatherly cartoon engine trying to turn over. Cool beans. When everyone gets back on it, Munro's trombone lazily drawling about atop Dadge's fluttering percussion, it really comes together as its own unique improvisational sound. Same goes for track two, which finds viola, percussion, electronics and a whole mess of other scapegoats coaxing some pretty weird and wired zones out of their instruments. Remember Dadge telling me that Holy Cheever tape they did was a weird one, and given this material it's true. Much less groggy sounding stuff here. Instead, this material is super vibrant and clearly produced.
Third track sees Golub enter into the mix, though it remains unclear whether the brief raptor cry in the beginning belongs to him. A lot of this stuff enters into some weird sort of ultra-stripped down, off post-bop realms. Like an even more abstracted Monk tune or a remix of some small Mingus unit. Bass keeps things nice and lazy but really holds it down, giving the muttered trombone spelunkings real context. Dadge's drums stay just behind, playing constant catch up and keeping things just off balance. Really smart drumwork actually, never takes hold and leads the band. Stays just off to the side.
The closing track is a real burner. Finally a sextet, the thing uses its ten minutes wisely, starting with a slow groove that meanders its way about, Crocker's guitar laying down some clean and tasty licks atop the increasingly kinetic percussion. Everyone stays quite careful throughout, slowly building together, each voice finding its route until it turns into some weird Marion Brown meets John Tchicai kind of thing. Long notes and winter coats. Super nice and a great ending to another Bug Incision winner.