Live at In-Roads

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Recorded in the band's salad days, way back in 1982, this is the sound of Borbetomagus becoming Borbetomagus. Along with the power trio of saxophonists Jim Sauter and Don Deitrich, and guitarist Donald Miller, is electronics manipulator Brian Doherty, who fills in for the gig. But this disc, on Japan's PSF label, is the sound of a band wood shedding its sound, exploring the sheets and ribbons of overtonal inquiry that later became the very palette they improvised from. At In-Roads Borbetomagus was able to do the unthinkable: discover who they were as individual musicians, and how as individuals they related to others in the context of a free music group. Here the honking, screaming power moves, which Dietrich and Sauter learned from Pharaoh Sanders, Albert Ayler, Evan Parker, and Peter Brötzmann, coming home to gel in a bridging of exotic breathing techniques, full-blown emotional intensity, and the desire for sound so pure it can no longer be recognizable as merely music. Add to this the drain circling riffs and chords played against earsplitting feedback of Donald Miller's guitar and the painterly screeches and swathes of Doherty's electronics and you have a unit capable of driving everyone from a room if they really desired, but, even more importantly, they would engage those who remained on a level that is sublingual and purely instinctual in its response. This is what, at their best, Borbetomagus does without effort. It's fascinating to listen to that process at its genesis.

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