Ivo Perelman, Joe Morris, Balázs Pándi – One – RareNoise RNR034, 52:28 [10/1/13] ***1/2:
(Ivo Perelman – tenor saxophone; Joe Morris – electric bass; Balázs Pándi – drums)
The RareNoise label (which has distributed projects by Brainkiller, Buckethead, and Harold Budd) was founded in late 2008 to provide a space for musicians, and listeners, who consider musical genre boundaries unnecessary. Saxophonist Ivo Perelman, drummer Balázs Pándi, and electric bassist Joe Morris (the trio who perform on the 52-minute album, One) certainly fit into that specification. Since his debut as a leader in 1989, tenor saxophonist Perelman has tirelessly and prolifically delivered recordings typically typecast as free jazz, which have had small commercial impact while always showing his passion and depth as composer, improviser and player. Joe Morris is an adventurous guitarist, who in recent years has often switched to bass, has led his own groups, and recorded with William Parker, Bill Laswell and others. Hungarian-born drummer Balázs Pándi has worked and toured with various acts, in a multitude of genres including noise, experimental, free improvisation, free jazz, metal, and grind. In early 2013 he took part in a trio record with noise creator Merzbow and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson which sparked some interest among both free improv and noise fans. One was issued as vinyl, compact disc and digital download. This review refers to the CD version.
The record opens seemingly in mid-jam on the aptly titled “Freedom.” The abrupt start appears to put the listener right in the midst of a careening, improvised collaboration, with Perelman’s honking and squeaking tenor sax, reminiscent of Albert Ayler, Morris’ potent bass and Pándi’s invective percussion. While the rhythm section supplies devastated bursts of bass notes and crashing cymbals, Perelman is clearly in the center foreground because the mix places him aurally upfront, while bass and drums lie further in the background. This sonic arrangement continues on the second cut, “What Love Can Lead To,” which is more subdued than other pieces. Here, Perelman reels out more discreet saxophone passages, although he creates textures which are decidedly external to traditional jazz territory, nearer to Ornette Coleman than Stan Getz. Morris’ molten bass lines and Pándi’s singed polyrhythmic aerobics are also somewhat moderated. The last minute of “What Love Can Lead To” shifts into a twilight course where sax becomes quieter and quieter until just a breathy whisper is heard, as the drums become dominant. The title track is mostly a capacious duet between Morris and Perelman and includes tense brackets of sax lines, bass phrases, and free jazz/bop expressions. At times, Perelman infuses ghostly melodies into the tune’s design, while bass and drums form a primary but unrestricted foundation: there’s no plan or strategy, but there is a cohesive logic even when the threesome display no sense of constraint.
The trio escalates the atonality on the final two numbers. The almost ten-minute “Universal Truth” is kindled by Perelman’s propulsive sax, while Morris contributes a high, dashing bass groove. There is a muscular authority throughout, as the three artists hit maximum velocity, heightened by Pándi’s electronic- esque drum soloing (at one point he generates a drum machine-like rapidity); Morris’ avant-garde saxophone input; and layers and segments outside even standard free-jazz sprees. The album’s magnum opus is the 17-minute closer, “Stigma,” where everything presented on the previous pieces coalesce, come apart, come together, melt, mix, blend, and break apart again. It’s a distillation and a scattering of enthusiasm, modernism, and intensity. While the music on One is neither particularly innovative nor perfectly distinctive, those familiar with Morris and Perelman’s preceding works should find plenty to discover and appreciate, while others may not empathize or be partial to this tempestuous nonconformity. One is obviously not for neophytes.
TrackList: Freedom; What Love Can Lead To; To Remember What Never Existed; One; Universal Truth; Stigma.