Angles – Epileptical West/Live In Coimbra (CF 182)
Last year regular reader Wojtek asked me why I didn’t give the previous album by Angles, “Every Woman Is A Tree” a five star rating. And I reacted saying that I really had considered it, yet did not at the last moment. I will make up for this and give the band’s new release the maximum rating, because every track on the album is equally strong and compelling, while the music is powerfully expressive, the playing exuberant and full of emotional depth.
The band is the brainchild of Swedish saxophonist Martin Küchen, and further consists of Mattias Ståhl on vibraphone, Magnus Broo on trumpet, Mats Älekint on trombone, Kjell Nordeson on drums and Johan Bertling on double bass.
Like its predecessor, the music is one long wail of protest and anger against the madness of today’s world. In order to do that, the band falls back on African rhythms, grand themes, and tremendous playing. The wonderful first track could be coming from Bengt Berger’s “Bitter Funeral Beer”, (one of my all-time favorites) with its polyrhythmic drive, strong theme and wild interactions, yet which all fit into one whole.
The second piece, “Today Is Better Than Tomorrow”, starts with slow vibes, and rumbling drums, as a gradual build-up for the glorious theme, introduced by Küchen, with the other horns echoing it, and driving it forward. It is of a hair-raising sadness.
The title track starts full of disorientation and madness over a strong rhythmic backbone, with Broo’s trumpet leading the tune, then changing gear into a strong African rhythm, half-funky over which a compelling theme is woven, a solid base for the individual soloists to express their anger, and joy, then shifting back into chaotic madness, with the bass driving up the tempo to give Nordeson the chance to hammer away. “En Svensk Brownie”, is again a funky rhythmic delight, evolving into middle piece with the arco bass and percussion reminiscent of Hemphill’s Dogon A.D.
To my great joy, they also play the title song of their previous album, an absolutely stunning, stirring, rousing composition, again a gloriously expansive piece, that is both sad and joyful, angry and inviting, full of powerful soloing. The long last track is quieter, subdued, with Küchen’s soloing beautifully soulful and bluesy, giving a great sense of compassion and hope at the same time.The piece becomes excited, then is crystalised around a sensitive arco bass solo by Bertling in the middle, then moving back to the main theme and related distress.
And it is a live album, with an audience that shouts full of enthusiasm, not only after the tracks, but also when the band unexpectedly change gear, or fall back into a steady groove. Great!
As you may read, I am excited. And more than just a little. This music gets you whole: soul, mind, heart and body.
If you buy only one album this year, buy this one!