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January/February 2007

Jim Black’s Alasnoaxis
Dogs of Great Indifference
Winter & Winter

In music without an axis, even the most emphatic statements feel slippery, and the musicians can only survive by constantly moving forward and inventing new paths. On Dogs of Great Indifference, Jim Black’s fourth album leading his AlasNoAxis band, the drummer serves up plenty memorable melodies and invigorating rhythms, but the most arresting moments come when he and his bandmates forge ahead for the next thing.

Chris Speed plays those memorable melodies on his sax like he’s creating them from scratch, loosely yet resolutely, as on the slow, gorgeous ballad “Oddfelt” that opens the album. Guitarist Hilmar Jensson creates a vast wall of sound while Black and bassist Skúli Sverrisson create a quiet web of untied melodic strings beneath the “Oddfelt” melody; drop accents to give notes of menace and wonder to the hushed atmospheres in “Spins So Free” and “Harmsoft”; and simply play the hell out of rock beats on “Tars and Vanish” and “Star Rubbed.” Those who like to relax with tunes may find Dogs of Great Indifference to be too unsteady, but if you want stimulation, Black and his band are right on the beam.

Originally published in January/February 2007
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