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December 2005

Nels Cline, Wally Shoup, Chris Corsano
Immolation/Immersion
Strange Attractors Audio House

Alto saxophonist Wally Shoup can go from zero to 60 in mere seconds, breaking the silence with a sustained, ear-piercing shriek. Nels Cline proves himself to be a worthy companion, seeing his friends' intensity and adding his own shrill guitar skronk to the fray. When drummer Chris Corsano makes his entrance, his thunder disrupts the frequencies of the instruments and sometimes creates a challenge in separating Shoup from Cline. All of this comes in "Lake of Fire Memories," a blistering two and a half minutes that nonetheless should fascinate anyone interested in free improvisation. Everyone else should probably skip to the next review.

While "Lake" is short and brutal, it serves as a warm-up for the title track: a 28-minute demonstration of what separates creative energy-music from noise. Cline's rapid-fire licks sound like disembodied bebop lines; when he plays with effects, he creates intense sound sculptures. Shoup likes to play bluesy lines, not just long tones or screams, though he frequently utilizes those styles as well. Corsano plays with the technique of two drummers, rolling over the toms while cracking away on the snare and cymbals.

Unless they're going for the quick kill, the trio sounds more interesting in the extended settings, using multiple dynamic shifts to break and reshape directions. A couple of four- and six-minute pieces stay in one place without maintaining as much excitement. But when they lock in, the trio is breathtaking.

Originally published in December 2005
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