Fourteen minutes into “Downpour 2,” the second track of the disc and more than 45 minutes into this trio’s performance at last year’s Victoriaville Festival, guitarist Nels Cline locks into punk rock power chords. Drummer Tom Rainey skirts around it rather than join him, and the same goes for Andrea Parkins whose keyboards or accordion (it’s often hard to distinguish them, in a non-pejorative way) adds to the melee with some electric static. This moment of reckoning has been brewing, it seems, since the start of the set, which is broken into three tracks at 37, 18 and four minutes, respectively.
Cline and Parkins create loops and drones and often blur the sonic lines between their instruments. Rainey sometimes sounds like he’s either demurring or playing it low-key. Both approaches work, although sections of “Downpour 1” occasionally sound like more time is spent plotting the next move rather than taking it. When Rainey locks into an off-kilter military snare groove, he’s joined by Cline, whose bassy odd-tempo riff could be called anti-funk.
The performance might have been totally improvised, but the sudden stops between tracks sound cohesive and, together with the aforementioned moments, they make for an engaging listen.