Released only a few months after 20 Quarter Inch Jacks -- Tim Brady's recording debut for Ambiances Magnétiques -- Unison Rituals brings together five pieces for ensembles small and large. While the previous album focused on Brady's work in the studio (with multi-tracking and electro-acoustics), this one comes back to modern composition. Each piece features the note cycles and complex patterns of displaced accents that give his music such an immediately recognizable sound. Some find in these elements influences from Steve Reich and Philip Glass, which is undeniable, but Brady often steps out of this canvas. "Escapement" includes a soulful soprano sax solo during a surprisingly melodious bridge section. "Two Chords Less Than a Blues" moves back and forth between overlapping note cycles from the piano and tenor sax and trashy percussion breaks. But the highlight of the set is "Double Helix," for piano, percussion, cello and saxophones. Beginning at dizzying speed, spinning its hermetic cycles like strands of DNA, the piece eventually cools down to leave room for some exquisite interplay between piano and cello that lead into the prettiest coda Brady has written yet. These three pieces are performed by his "Bradyworks" ensemble. The album opens on the title sax quartet interpreted by Quasar. Its quirky interlocking lines and hiccuping accents are strongly reminiscent of Rova's work -- so is the quality of Quasar's delivery. The last piece, "Sound Off," was originally written as an outdoor piece for a mass band of 100 saxes, trumpets and trombones plus eight bass drums. This version, lasting only a quarter of the duration of the original, features 42 instruments (the big band Kappa). Brady explores stunning drone and dissonance effects that lead up to an unexpected major chord that is taken apart and sent back to the atonal magma. In short, Unison Rituals is Brady's most impressive album since Revolutionary Songs in 1996.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture