Cold Bleak Heat


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Released two years after Cold Bleak Heat's debut, Simitu sees the quartet turning it down a bit and better gelling as a unit. At least, that's what the mind wants to think, but it's all an illusion; as it turns out, Simitu contains pieces recorded at the same August 2003 session that yielded It's Magnificent, But It Isn't War. Instead of an evolution, this album would be better seen as the reversal of the previous CD, which was very much in-your-face throughout. This opus explores a wider spectrum of dynamics. If you are looking for something similar to Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano's take-no-prisoner sessions, this isn't it. On the contrary, the saxophonist and the drummer are getting more playful with the intensity factor, letting bassist Matt Heyner and trumpeter Greg Kelley boil things down on many occasions, exploring more delicate emotions, before all four of them re-escalate toward raw, scorching fire music. The 15-minute track "A White Bandaged Head in the Shadow of Death" is the best example of that range, and a highlight as such. There is also something wonderful taking place between Corsano and Heyner in the early stages of "Mugged by a Glacier," although later on the piece peters out, becoming the longest track of the set, and not by duration only. "The Voice of the People Is the Voice of God" is one of those rambunctious shout-it-out improvs Flaherty is best known for and stands as another highlight, if only in contrast to "A White Bandaged Head in the Shadow of Death." One wishes this quartet would record again; in the meantime, Simitu can take care of your Flaherty fix.

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