From the Bottle
2003's eponymous debut by Tigersmilk was not an entirely welcoming thing. Happily, that difficult release has been followed by the richer, more enjoyable From the Bottle.
The title, as any Chicago creative music fan can tell you, refers to the Empty Bottle, the club where cornetist/laptopist Rob Mazurek, bassist Jason Roebke and percussionist Dylan van der Schyff washed up for this live set of untitled improvisations. Van der Schyff's kitchen-sink rumble can accelerate into a barrage of percussive hail. His sound meshes well with the electronic buzzing and scratching Mazurek sets just below the surface of the music. Roebke either strolls through the center of things with big, slow, sloppy beats or crouches in Mazurek's electronic haze with a rapid-fire pizzicato. With post-Don Cherry squeals and melodic statements in broad vibrato, Mazurek gives the music a healthy dose of swagger.
Mazurek's electronics assume a slightly larger role here, giving this free-improv group a sound not entirely distant from what passes for electro-acoustic improv these days. Unlike the more doctrinaire players in those circles, however, Tigersmilk sometimes settle into a groove. They also reference older, unmistakably jazz-like forms with humor and without apology. Their clever, mutating sound and openness to less abstract forms makes this a fun listen.