The trio of trombonist Matthias Müller, bassist Clayton Thomas and drummer Christian Marien, The Astronomical Unit is a no-compromise intersection of instrumental personalities able to transcend barriers through the generation of a kind of sonority that is dense or rarefied depending on circumstance. The banishment of whatever may resemble an even vague shape of “tune”, or just a predictable structure, is the album’s main feature: events occur amidst sudden dynamic shifts, rapid discharges and unstable escalations for the large part of the performances, the music nearly inhospitable at first. But already at the second listen, one is set for a thorough comprehension of what the artists are willing to communicate. Müller is a worthy representative of the gallery of fine improvisers who decided to use trombone as a means of expression, a jargon which in this case appears quite akin to that of Jim Staley, an often forgotten name among the Rutherfords, Zummos and Lewises of the world. His jumpy talkativeness and outstanding reactivity are on a par with an explicit temperamental brilliance, every proposal uttered with spitefulness and irony at once. Thomas is great in utilizing the bass’ body parts to the maximum extent to delineate a comprehensive gamut of timbres, disentangling the instrument from the necessities of dullard jazzy pumping. Marien represents the third piece of excellence in the group, creating new methods for the disaggregation of the rhythmic particles which, recombined and meshed with additional percussive gradations, push the interplay all along the impervious paths of improvisational capriciousness. The whole album is comparable to someone who finds a way of smiling while launching invectives. A very good effort.

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