Atavistic

The pairing of Peter Brötzmann (alto & tenor sax, b-flat clarinet and tarogato) and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello & electronics) ensures a crackling punch-a-thon, though they also detour into several lick-my-wounds moments of dazed woolgathering; the second and longest section, in particular, offers a serene oasis amid the disc’s skin-scathing sandstorms. Yet this set, recorded by Lou Mallozzi at Chicago’s Hideout in 2007, is so jam-packed with slicing shards, rusty spikes and Tasmanian Devil whirls-and-sputters that any attempt at description is doomed to failure. At times Lonberg-Holm’s electronic gadgetry sets a cunning trap from which Brötzmann barely manages to escape, flames spitting from his nostrils as he counterattacks with acrimonious bellows. Elsewhere we witness a squabble between equally balanced forces, FLH’s unremitting acridness versus PB’s hysterical loquaciousness; picture a husband-and-wife quarrel involving flying dishes and broken vases, the participants making rare (and mostly useless) attempts at cooling off. These artists may have become known quantities in the world of improvisation, but their encounter here offers previously overlooked facets of their musical personalities with every listen.

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