Ants to the Moon

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Ants to the Moon is the 1994 release by the coolest party band in America. With the perverse saxophone histrionics of Briggan Krauss, the world music guitar virtuosity of Brad Schoeppach, and the fragmented polyrhythmic invention of Aaron Alexander, it doesn't matter what the band plays, its originality cannot be matched. If the investigation of free jazz modalism is the topic, then listen no further than "This," where Krauss cuts through both rhythm and harmony with jagged runs and long phrases that intersect with Schoeppach on the "one" and then fly free for a full eight minutes before the two engage in a kind of lyrically loopy counterpoint and stop the tune on a funky dime. On "Rocky and Rachael," Schoeppach leads the chase on what can only be described as a hard bop klezmer tune. The timekeeping demand on Alexander is fierce, but he's all guns, rimshots firing into space and cymbals crashing against Krauss' accents on the melody. The three-part suite "Cautionary Tale" is an amazing jolt of high-energy improvisation, highly textured riffing, and rock histrionics. When the intensely intricate written lines shove rhythms and metric modulations to the margins, Krauss can be counted to take them over, and Schoeppach to create the necessary tension to eventually bring them back into some semblance of harmonic logic. Forget the ants: This is a hot band playing their asses off on their own way to the moon.

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