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15 July 2009

Art Ensemble of Chicago - 'Phase One' (America)

America Records is actually a French label but the liner notes don't tell us where this was recorded. The title could mean many things - some intergalactic plan to rule the world, or some special instructions for hooking up your speakers in some Brian Eno method - but really I think it's misleading, cause this sounds to me like the beginning of phase TWO for the AE of C. The record opens with Jarman's 'Ohnedaruth', a swirling mass of oceanic cymbals that explodes into full-on, free, loft-style blowing -- and it never lets up. There's solo after solo and the guys sound great but the intensity never lets up and it becomes a bit, I dunno, horizontal? Bowie somehow manages to sound a bit richer than the rest though maybe that's just my bias. The second side is a tribute to Albert Ayler wonderfully titled 'Lebert Aaly', except it makes me think that my sides might be mislabeled. Cause, the rocking reverberations on 'Ohnedaruth' sound more like the ESP-styled Ayler records, almost like these genre-busters are dipping into a genre to show their affection for the then-just-deceased Cleveland gale. 'Lebert Aaly' would actually resemble a Jarman composition more, with it's open cadences, thick chords, and careful pauses. It's definitely more on the modern classical tip and why would you compose a tribute to Ayler in that style? It's not a eulogisin' piece, at least not to these ears. But that doesn't mean I don't think it's beautiful and dynamic and shows (on yet another LP) a different side of these dudes from the 11 sides we've already heard.

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