Simply put, this is a stunning piece of work, performed in front of a stunned audience that was won over from the first few notes. After a spell of a few years, Anthony Braxton was back in Victoriaville in 2005 to present a new line-up. This sextet of young musicians (except for tuba player Jay Rozen, who is more experienced) is impressive to say the least. Taylor Ho Bynum makes a flashy trumpeter, quickly rising to the status of Toshinori Kondo. Violinist Jessica Pavone waltzes her way through the 68-minute piece almost effortlessly. Bassist Chris Dahlgren often applies a lot of pressure on the bow to get a gritty textural sound that evokes a fuzz guitar. Rozen's tuba is electronically treated, which also brings it closer to a noise guitar at times, giving this particular sextet a more raucous sound than what Braxton fans are used to. Percussionist Aaron Siegel goes by rather unnoticed, going through the score without making sparks. "Composition No. 345" features a striking balance between the abstract and the soulful. Its architecture is carefully hidden through pockets of free improvisation and seemingly random bits of scored tuttis, but its complex shapes and semi-parallel lines reveal themselves after a few listens. Compared to the Ghost Trance Music compositions, "No. 345" features a breathtaking level of complexity, yet the piece remains firmly rooted in the instant of playing, fascinating the listener with its every twist and turn. Not an easy listen even by Braxton's standards, this is nevertheless a must-have for the follower.
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