By Max Schaefer
Posted on Aug 1st 2007 09:56 pm
Conditions For A Piece Of Music
Rune Grammofon 2007
12 Tracks. 54mins20secs
The third full-length effort from Norway’s Ultralyd rings true as an allergic reaction to the present-day obligation to see, to the impossibility of not seeing. To the extent that the quartet compresses their frenetic energy – displayed with some extravagance on previous efforts – producing tightly wound compositions that exploit extremes of pitch and dynamics, they cling to a certain disheveled denial of words, and a conscientious objection to the transparent object. Album opener Saprochord seeks to demobilize itself, the players nailing themselves down to sharp-honed, muted tone and harmonic contour and a bubbling rhythm section.
With time, the group begins to trade self-awareness for transcendence, letting the intensity level rise while exploring angular contours and varying instrumental textures. Take Comphonie III, for one, its muscular and spirited tenor sax maintaining a narrative dimension while a fluid groove grounds it in a sordid, sensual aura. Even in its more uncouth phrasings, in which the dry edginess of Kjetil Moster’s sax emits a rich polyglot of ethereal tones and caustic hisses against blunt jazz guitar licks and the arrhythmic lurch of Morten Olsen’s drumming, pieces never entirely betray their strategic origins – a fact which sets it apart from previous efforts, in which the group seemed all but lost in the labyrinth of their own chaotic musings. In its relentless concentration on dark moods and numbing cyclical themes, more often than not, Conditions For A Piece Of Music successfully exploits its insensitivity, and asserts its right to blindness.
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