NATE WOOLEY / SCOTT R. LOONEY / DAMON SMITH / WEASEL WALTER – Scowl

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The assumption that a quartet featuring such a marshalling of diverse improvisers could be – to the very least – dynamically spiky is quite obvious. Better still, numerous chunks of Scowl are also beautiful to hear, the type of aural gratification detectable during the sheer enjoyment of different-than-usual timbral emissions which, somewhat magically, appears just what the doctor orders in a particular context. All the involved players are known for high levels of stamina supporting an evident technical facility. However, the five tracks are not perceived as overwrought for a minute, occasionally approaching the borders of a distinguished “punk classicism”, if you see what I mean. Wooley punctiliously looks for alternative ways of bending an already contorted mouth to new rules of no rule by alternating proper phrases, humid currents and gravelly blather in an instantly recognizable jargon. Looney glues a nervous version of Stephen Scott’s inside-piano bowing and a real-time replica of Conlon Nancarrow’s furious flurries to leave us punch-drunk in terms of harmonic comprehensibility. Smith’s management of the double bass is typically open-minded; when he goes to work on the ranges that usually belong to the cello – after many rounds of hard-hitting plucks and quarrelsome masculinity emanating from the instrument’s body – a measure of heavenly dirtiness is achieved. Walter’s apparent disjointedness hides instead a complete command of the drumset, a disbeliever in regular tempos pushing our physical micro-systems into repeated sessions of spastic foot-tapping and uncontrollable pulsions, the head moving towards directions that might cause eventual bystanders to seriously worry. Lingering doubt: the press release recites “three infamous improvised music masters join together for this intense, noisy studio session”. Besides the fact that one hears great sounds and not “noise” here, who’s the modest guy not wanting to be called a master?

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