New Amsterdam / NNA Tapes

In the midst of an album by a saxophone quartet it’s strange to note that the characteristic I’m sincerely appreciating is the appearance of the members’ frail voices in selected spots. Battle Trance – at their second outing following 2014’s Palace Of Wind – do know their chops on the reeds of choice, but all you need is taking a look at the explanatory notes of Blade Of Love to individuate the spirit animating it. These three tracks are not mere showcases of technical prowess, then; one may join the usual name-dropping game by quoting brands such as Urban Sax, ROVA et al. However – as it often happens in similar circumstances – this would be an entirely futile exercise. And, in all honesty, we’re not on the same levels.

Still, nice places to visit do exist herein. A dose of massive dronage to open the first episode, for example, to set things in semi-consonant quavering state prior to a peculiarly touching quiet chorale shifting the piece’s gravitas towards delicate gradations. The spell is ruptured by a section where intertwining melodies and circular designs generate a little too much of a “let’s rejoice together” aroma, at least for this reviewer’s taste. It doesn’t last long, as everything returns to Terry Riley-like mildly entrancing atmospheres introducing, in turn, a brilliant whirlwinding crescendo. The second and the third sections contain comparable factors in slightly different combinations, sometimes with an increased tendency to Ayleresque independence (as after the fourth minute of “Part II”), elsewhere through the use of piercing clusters and/or whispered evocations.

All in all, this is a decent release by four young musicians whose good will seems genuine, if these aerials are not being corroded by numberless unusable recordings received of late. Were the cantabile traits of certain lines less evident, the mark would be higher. As of now, it’s about 6,5 out of 10.

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