Dial: Log-Rhythm

Keith Rowe

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Dial: Log-Rhythm Review

by Brian Olewnick

In the non-idiomatic improvisational world of musicians like Keith Rowe, the introduction of a saxophone is invariably problematic, bringing with it the almost inevitable associations with jazz. There are several potential ways around this. One is for the saxophonist to have a sufficiently personal language so as to render the jazz influences secondary; Evan Parker might so qualify. Another is to adopt the path of John Butcher, largely utilizing sound territories not normally associated with his instrument (clicks, hums, breath tones, etc.), allowing the saxophone to blend seamlessly with the electronics, percussion, and so on. German altoist Jeffrey Morgan chooses neither of these options, and contents himself with the sort of extended techniques pioneered by musicians like Anthony Braxton, which, however removed they might be from bop, still retain a jazzy aura and don't quite cohere with the approach favored by Rowe. Still, in the hands of one as experienced as this guitarist, the very tension created by such disparate attacks can be used to create some formidable, challenging music, and Rowe does mold the proceedings into a generally enjoyable whole. His actual playing tends to remain in the background, but his accents and prodding serve to cocoon Morgan's playing into a more interesting envelope than might have otherwise resulted. Dial: Log-Rhythm is worth hearing for Rowe fans (and worth owning for his wonderful cover painting), but isn't quite an essential document in his discography. For that, listen to A Perfectly Ordinary Dimension of Reality or Harsh instead.

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