Ensemble Uncontrolled

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Links Review

by François Couture

Ensemble Uncontrolled's second CD came out on Slam Productions, five years after the debut Tales From the Forest on Leo Records Laboratory. It presents studio recordings from April 1997 and two live pieces from October 1996. So, on the timeline, the music is actually much closer to the first CD than to the release date of this second opus. Members of the international outfit meet sparsely, but their free improvisations still convey a strong sense of maturity. The studio tracks were recorded in Tallinn (Estonia), home of trombonist Eduard Akulin and guitarist Mart Soo. Kalle Laar (guitar), Takashi Kasamaki (percussion), and Day & Taxi saxophonist Christoph Gallio complete the lineup. Paul Hoskin adds his bass clarinet to the two live improvs. Halfway between Peter Brötzmann's tropical-heat blowing and the Spontaneous Music Ensemble's abstract restraint, the music of the Ensemble Uncontrolled embraces texture without turning its back on dynamics. Sometimes it results in a clumsy attempt at instant structured pieces ("Above the Blue"). More generally the music offers a complex, rich amalgam of ideas. The two guitars dominate the sound, establishing moods, taking up solo space, and so on. Gallio brings a more lyrical point of view, throwing lines inspired by Evan Parker. Trombone and percussion remain for the most part at the level of interesting accessories. "Wind Tells (Sometimes)," "Restless Counterpoint," and "Have You Been in Tibet?" all provide paced highlights. Links is not a groundbreaking album, but it features honest, heartfelt, and challenging improvising.

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