A follow-up to the trio's 2003 debut CD, The __ who had begun his career as a useful__of. . . ., Black American Flag continues to explore the realm of highly-demanding free improvisation while going deeper into both ends of the dynamic spectrum. There are quieter quiet passages, and louder loud passages. In fact, guitarist Chris Forsyth sounds like he cuts loose for short periods of time, exploding into screeches of feedback. And yet there is little egocentric playing in his behavior. As the title of the album suggests, this CD takes a more defined political position -- or at least it expresses a sense of urgency the first album didn't know of. The music of Psi combine the "focused-to-the-point-of-painful" concentration of so-called reductionist free improv with the raw-cry revolt of Noise. And the awkward strength of the music resides in this very fragile balance. The album consists of two pieces. "Headfirst Into the Flames" (13 minutes) takes some time to lift off, and even then remains gritty and unwilling to cooperate with its three makers. In spite of their combined efforts to repress its ambitions, it climaxes noisily before being subdued (sounds like a description of an anti-globalization rally; then again, maybe it is). "May Day" (30 minutes) is much more complex and eventful, taking the listener through several states of mind. Here, Jaime Fennelly's electronics shine, his unruly shifts prompting Forsyth and percussionist Fritz Welch to keep the improvisation alive. There are a couple of points within the last ten minutes where the piece could have found its natural conclusion, but continued nonetheless -- deceptions, not bad decisions, mind you.
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