Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Anvil Salute - Cosmic Yes (House of Alchemy CD-R)

Here's another new contribution to the pool from House of Alchemy, this time in the form of a nice little disc from a group I hadn't heard of before this, Anvil Salute. Apparently they hail from the Midwest, but they sound like they might as well be from the Far East, or at least New York circa '68, imploring a nice combination of free jazz, raga and free-folk into a kind of ESP meets Impulse meets Folkways sound that's super together.

Track titles here are super extended too, which gives the whole thing the feel of a journey of sorts, going from the opener, "The answer is YES; the question doesn't matter" to the fourth and final track, whose title is long enough that I won't recreate it here but suffice it to say it has as much to do with Trout Fishing in America as it does not. Along the way they really go some places, opening with the Indian strings and bells of the opener, whose clacking rhythms find the album steaming in off some pale shores a la Alice Coltrane's Journey in Satchidananda. A smoky sax even rolls about among the mini celeste melody as the thing unfolds into some desert sands lope whose pace is just steady enough so as to give it that Lawrence of Arabia, sun rising behind you feel as the sax loosens it up and gets some silt in its shorts. Feeds right into the next track too, which skitters over some sea shell bells and a snare tap or too for a real brief go of it before falling right over itself and into some languid guitar lines on the aptly titled "The Virtues of the Fuck-Up," whose little celeste melody sort of twinkles along above the increasingly swampy guitar work. A real clean sound though, focused way more in pacing and steady coagulation then seeking out some muddied psychedelic mess. Kind of precious in its own way, though not unenjoyable for it as is so often the case.

The closing track sees reentry for the saxophone, which opens the tune with a billow and a blare while a trumpet sort of mutters to itself underneath. Steady little thing that sounds like the percussion from Art Ensemble mixed in with some post-fire number. Some surprising horn playing too here, real good sound and nice movement around each other, kinda fumbling over one another while the atmospheric backing adds flourishes to the falls. A lot of restraint on hand too, with no one really willing to push through all the way and go for it--the result being that it's never cluttered at all, each sound clear and each line fluid. Nice piano interspersions too that give it an even more percussive feel that's as light as air. Good stuff, the band clearly has a conception and is willing to step out of the proverbial box in subtle and surprising ways that keep the whole thing super fresh. Another glorious one from House of Alchemy, and somehow the spare construction paper cover gets the right idea entirely.

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