Label: Clean Feed, 2018
Personnel - Martin Kuchen: tenor and soprano saxophones; Ingebrigt Haker Flaten: bass; Kjell Nordeson: drums
Effusive saxophonist Martin Kuchen, a mainstay of the free improvised Swedish scene, spearheads the avant-jazz band Angles, whose formation keeps changing throughout the years. The nonet (Angles 9) is probably the most popular of its ensembles, but for Parede, a live recording made in the Portuguese city referred in the title, the band was narrowed to a trio. The adventurous Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten enrolls for the first time, replacing Johan Berthling, while the drums are entrusted to the regular Kjell Nordeson.
“Equality & Death” opens the session with the bassist and the drummer exploring a simple sextuple meter groove. The naked sound is intensified when, in a crescendo, the tempestuous growls of Kuchen attain a peak. This rowdy exertion is abruptly interrupted for an abstract unagitated passage. But after a few minutes, it regains its muscle as the bass oozes groove again, shoulder to shoulder with the rocking rhythm of the drums. The duality dynamic-static perdures until the end.
A nearly three-minute pizzicato dissertation with some occasional strumming is at the origin of “Satan in Plain Clothes”, which flows with a straight-eight rhythm and a danceable bass thrust. Kuchen’s intensely abrasive lines bring Thomas Chapin back to mind, while Nordeson embarks on a summer-shower solo by the end, preceding the theme’s playful statement. I felt I was listening to punk music without guitars.
The 23 minutes of “Francisco / By Way of Deception”, penned by Haker Flaten and Kuchen, respectively, follow the same recipe that includes sturdy yet grooving foundation and unvarnished melodies on the saxophone, becoming more and more intense and explorative with the passage of time. The bandleader, wielding the soprano saxophone, performs timbral examinations, whether alone or in the company of a thrilling percussive navigation that pays homage to Famadou Don Moye’s style. Pure avant-garde forms and moods are discernible in this Afro dance, evocative of Ornette Coleman, Julius Hemphill, and Frank Wright.
“Don’t Ruin Me / Love, Flee Thy House (in Breslau)” starts off with a dark tenor supplication uttered with an Eastern accent, before screams of agony take place. A poised unaccompanied bass solo balances the vehemence of the music for a while, just until violent saxophone eruptions fill the air with a self-absorbed invention. However, these energetic moments find counterpoise in certain segments where a more melodic approach is followed.
Kuchen and his like-minded cohorts give each tune a stimulating, uncompromising execution that is as much ardent in emotion as it is agile in technique and craft. The band’s raw sound is all compressed in this record, which comes out unfailingly infectious.
02 - Satan in Plain Clothes ► 03 - Francisco / By Way of Deception ► 04 - Don’t Ruin Me / Love, Flee Thy House (in Breslau)