Opening with a skittish Tom Rainey drum solo, all brittle gestures and lead-up, Mary Halvorson’s guitar, wildly retuned, entering the fray evoking a surreal Hawaiian vision almost, in the process of disorientation the pace of the exploration accelerating (Rainey having dropped out by this stage) before pianist Kris Davis crashes in, Halvorson ripping things up a bit.
That tune is called ‘That’s All She Wrote’, it’s short, but the title track next sticks around longer, a much more extravagant spread of ideas unfolding, followed then by the two-part ‘Face the Piper’ tracks and four more pieces culminating in ‘Red Hook’.
All saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock’s compositions (it takes a while for her to surface, quietly on soprano, on the title track) there’s a real clarity she fashions at the beginning of ‘Face the Piper Part 1’ that develops into a dialogue between Laubrock and Halvorson. Later, on ‘From Farm Girl to Fabulous Vol II’, Halvorson is at her most adventurous and dare I say mischievously anarchic.
It’s all very open, rather than off-the-shelf free improv, as an overall style. And there is that great harnessing of musical space by this alert ensemble as well as the rare ability to angle different timbal qualities and textures into a shape that gives the music mass or conspires in its very creation to push self-destruct.
The core group is completed by John Hébert on bass, very much a reactive role for him in the more frantic mayhem-rife sections, while Oscar Noriega on clarinet, heard recently on Snakeoil’s latest album, crops up on ‘Silence (for Monika)’ plus ‘and Light (for Izumi),’ the latter the most episodic of the eight pieces here (named for Izumi Uchida who died last year, the much-missed manager of Samuel Blaser).
Recorded in Brooklyn’s Systems Two studio in a single day of early-December 2014 this is Anti-House’s third album on Swiss label Intakt, the first back in 2010 two years after the group was formed when Laubrock moved to New York from London. With each album the clarity of Laubrock’s often austere but highly compelling musical vision becomes clearer.
You won’t find any ‘tunes’ here, not that you’ll need to; but what you will find is a belief in the strength of creativity in a group concept that does not shy away from abstraction to shove the music relentlessly forward and carry you along into their world. SG