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Improv 04



Matt Turner, Cello, voice

Jeff Song, Bass Guitars, voice

John Mettam, Drums, voice

I like to listen to new recorded music the first time without knowing too much about what I’m hearing, just digging the sonic vibe minus the intellect. My first responses to this CD were "Wow! What weird little songs". So the second time I’m reading the liner notes and it says "All of the music on this CD was improvised live in the studio except for the vocal parts which were added later". But these sounded exactly like perfectly realized songs. The tightness of the ensemble , the transitions, the key changes, the whole bit. I may have been thrown off by the fact that I own a previous CD from 1994, IN VIVO (AIR 0016) by the same group and that does sound improvised. Here we have a group that has worked so closely together that they have passed that magic point where the distinction between composition and improvisation is unimportant. The single aspect that has changed the most is drummer John Mettam has really come into the foreground with some terrific grooves and strong playing all around. The interplay between drummer and bass player Jeff Song create rhythms so compelling that it is hard to believe that its not worked out ahead of time. Jeff, for his part, creates such harmonically strong structures that once again it is hard to believe it wasn’t edited outside the moment. Malichi could be out of the Material or Curlew vaults with its killer groove and Matt Turner’s virtuoso cello solo. Skeerow is down right scary with these Venom-like vocals. All Alone has a errie and icy shimmer of singular bass harmonics with glassy cello glissandi enshrouding John Mettam’s haunting voice. There is some humor and silliness here too with the Misfortune Cookie and Adios Muchachos sounds like it could be from one of those punk LP’s I traded off in the seventies. All the "tunes" sound remarkably different from each other in fact. This is a brave group considering that they have a limited timberal spectrum and yet create something so distinct every time out of the gate. Not your average improvising group but highly entertaining and exceedingly listenable unless you happen to have problems with vocals.

Joee Conroy

This CD (STEL 1005) is available from:

Stellar Sound
834 e. Minor St.
Appleton,WI 54911
or email