In the field on non-idiomatic free improvisation, the saxophone causes a bit of a problem. Musicians striving for a pure improv ethic, unaffected by other traditions, have to struggle with the enormous amount of "baggage" that the saxophone brings along, specifically the jazz tradition. Evan Parker was one of the first to attempt to break with this tradition and succeeded in part, though one could clearly hear strong echoes of, for example, late John Coltrane in his playing. Further strides were taken by players such as John Butcher and Lou Gare, though one could still, generally, find vestiges of earlier forms. This mini-disc by the German alto saxophonist Thomas Ankersmit pushes the boundaries even farther from jazz, interestingly not by edging toward an extremely quiet and focused aesthetic like the strategy often employed by Butcher, but at the opposite, louder end of the spectrum. The four pieces included here have a similar structure: extended drones, played quite loudly and utilizing severe overtones. One foundation note is held for the duration of the work, while various secondary tones splinter outward, like leaves off a vine. These may be high frequency, whistling shrieks, low-end rumbles, or series of pops and clicks. The effect is intense (very), somewhat otherworldly and fascinating, resolutely harsh but not off-putting. On the final track, Ankersmit overdubs several saxophones, creating a virtual hive of activity, overtones swirling between one's ears like a horde of angered wasps. The music is unique, unyielding to the point of obsessiveness and, for the adventurous listener, very rewarding. Along with only a handful of other reed players like Michel Doneda and James Fei, Ankersmit is treading in entirely new ground. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick