This expansive two-LP set captures an entire, nearly two-hour live set by Anthony Braxton's Creative Orchestra recorded in Koln, Germany, in 1978. Braxton, like most members of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a loose Chicago-based collective that also included the Art Ensemble of Chicago and others), normally performed in small groups, from duos to quartets. Braxton's Creative Orchestra -- in which the saxophonist does not play, but merely conducts his own compositions -- is a 20-member exception to this rule. Many of Braxton's compositions explore near-silence in ways similar to John Cage, but this group is nothing if not loud.
Thanks to Braxton's skill as a composer, the results never devolve into mere cacophony, even in those passages where all 20 members -- including an accordionist and a synthesizer player -- are playing at once, as in the opening "Language Improvisations." This is a powerful document of a little-appreciated side of Anthony Braxton's work.