Hailing from Edmonton (Alberta, Canada), the Vertrek Ensemble (Vadim Budman on guitars and trumpet, Ron de Jong on percussion) released its first album, Another Idea of North, in late 1997 on its own label Volatile Records. The CD collects solos, duos, and trios with guests Mark Kelly (banjo) and Ian Birse (guitar, effects), all recorded in one session. Budman's guitar style, full of strumming and unorthodox bends, instantly brings to mind Eugene Chadbourne (who did live, work, and perform in Edmonton for a brief moment in the 1970s). And at times Ron de Jong can sound like Paul Lovens, but they are not Chadbourne/Lovens copycats (although on "Running Rivers and Dusty Roads" with banjoist Mark Kell they come very close to that). Budman uses trumpet and electric guitar in a way closer to rock than anything Chadbourne has recorded, giving the Vertrek Ensemble's music enough originality to stand on its own. Chadbourne's presence is more tangible as a feeling and perhaps as an approach to improvisation -- a bit sloppy and not too serious or cohesive. Another Idea of North has its moments (mostly the two Budman solos and parts of the duo "Collector-Decorator"). However, it also suffers from overlong improvisations, particularly the 27-minute "A Hair of the God That Bit Him" with guitarist Birse, whose contribution is disruptive and mostly uninteresting (his work with a radio is both clichéd and badly controlled). This first CD presents two musicians experimenting with styles of improvisation and means of collaboration. There is promise in the forces present, but the result is not yet convincing.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture