Recorded live on June 23, 1988, at CBGB's, as the Blue Humans were opening for Sonic Youth, Incandescence is a 23-minute improvisation for guitar (Rudolph Grey, the Blue Humans' sole constant member), tenor saxophone (Jim Sauter, subbing for Grey's usual reedsman, Arthur Doyle), and percussion (free jazz master Beaver Harris, who died not long after this performance). Starting from a placid combination of high-register guitar sustain, subdued tom-tom and cymbal work, and Sauter's full-throated saxophone played through a delay unit, the improvisation slowly builds in volume and intensity until, in its tenth minute, Harris and Sauter lay back for an extended Grey guitar-noise showcase. Unlike most such solos -- including most of those by that night's headlining act -- there's a structural logic to Grey's explorations; the middle section of this improvisation has the well-shaped grace of a Coltrane solo. The piece continues with some increasingly frenzied free blowing by Sauter, while Harris' drumming becomes more controlled and subtle, before it all comes to a surprisingly abrupt halt.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason