Jacques Demierre / Urs Leimgruber / Barre Phillips

LDP -- Cologne

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Recorded almost three years after Wing Vane, this trio's debut, LDP -- Cologne offers a fine update but doesn't manage to match the rapturous intensity of the previous opus. One could hardly accuse Leimgruber, Demierre, and Phillips of staying in their comfort zone, but this studio session recorded over two consecutive days is somehow more laborious. The trio's music still proceeds from a conscious decision to explore very quiet dynamics, without excluding louder exchanges altogether, as the high-octane "The Rugged Cross" demonstrates. The opening "Dust" delivers the essence of this trio's sound in what could be called a nutshell -- five minutes, which is pretty short by free improv standards. The piece simmers softly, a murmured three-way dialogue. "You Can't Grow Old Again" and "Spare" fail to make a real impression; here, all three musicians seem to be going through the motions, producing disconnected sequences of bowed, tongued, and hammered sounds. "The Rugged Cross" escalates to a full-blown free-form primal scream that shakes off earlier disappointments. And "Applegate Spark" closes the proceedings with a lively, jagged piece offering a nice balance between ferociousness (Demierre's trademark stabbed chords in the first few minutes) and quiet textural playing. LDP -- Cologne is not a bad album per se -- there is in fact a lot to like in here -- but try Wing Vane on for size first.

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