Chicago-based instrumental expedition unit Cave have never shied away from the collage elements of their sound, often channeling the cut-ups of Krautrock staples like Faust or Can on their sprawled-out, modern psych wanderings. Following a long series of smaller-scale releases and several potent, heavily experimental full-lengths, the five expansive songs that make up Threace lean heavily on pinpoint precision in editing, locked-in group playing, and a sense of restraint, patience, and focus not seen on earlier albums. Lead-off track "Sweaty Fingers" is a testament to all of these factors, with its almost 12-minute running time seeing the band progress from a snaky minimal funk figure into an almost motionless one-note groove. It sounds like one or two elements of a Fela Kuti song being isolated and looped in rudimentary segments, maintaining the core of rhythm and funkiness, but stripped down as far as imaginable and then pushed even further into sparseness. It's an incredibly strong start, and the sometimes brash or jarring feel of earlier Cave days is traded for slick, nearly invisible shifts. Throughout the album, a mesh of meditative Krautrock, organ drone, and acid-fried fuzz rock all get similar editing treatment, turning in some of the most colorful and deliberate sounds from Cave yet. "Arrow's Myth" even employs a tight, jazzy horn section and segments of airy free-form electric piano, mashing a breezy soul-jazz motif into its gnarly Amon Düül-ish riffery. "Shikaakwa" gets into a similar spiritual jazz repetition, flutes and woodwinds trading off with plinky Afro-pop guitar lines. Known for their transcendent jamming, Threace is a different type of process for Cave, and one of the more satisfying listening experiences from the group. By no standards is the album a cleanly polished turn toward high-brow composition, but the sounds are more inspired and the hybrid of improvisation and clear-headed direction is one of their most cohesive-sounding, not losing any amount of excitement or fire with the added structure.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas