Cosmologic

Syntaxis

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    5
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AllMusic Review by

Cosmologic's second CD is a honest effort with its share of strengths and weaknesses. The California quartet approaches the free jazz idiom with fresh ears, injecting it with Vinny Golia's charts and a drop of jazz-funk. The tunes penned by trombonist Michael Dessen show the strongest resemblance to West Coast avant jazz pope Golia; they have his knack for tying a melody into a complex knot. "Restless Years" is his more upbeat contribution. A stomping 7/4, it sadly lacks some muscle tone in the delivery. Dessen and saxophonist Jason Robinson could have turned it into a lava-hot lick, but instead it remains only politely exciting. In "Artichoke Clock," Dessen's writing hits a peak, but his stylized motifs are no match to the more visceral and groovy pieces by Robinson ("Birdrock Dub," "Axis") and percussionist Nathan Hubbard ("A Secret No One Knows II"). In these, the musicians show what a good live unit they must be: The solos are wild (Robinson's tenor flight in "Axis" provides the disc's peak), the beats infectious, the energy freely flowing from one group member to the next. Bassist Scott Walton gets an "official" feature spot in "Metal Tear," but his beyond-the-bridge arco work had already provided key textural counterpoint to the first minutes of "Mr. Hubbard's Shock Installation" (otherwise trite). The closing "Ten Directions" sees Robinson trading the sax for a flute hooked to electronics, while Dessen and Hubbard provide a bed of hand drums and shakers -- an unexpected and delightful finale.

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