Implicit in the act of collective musical improvisation is the fact that musicians are going to respond to changes in tempo, instrumental character or color. In Sharks, the members of the trio, Yuganaut, in responding to changes, build the music to a dramatic climax, track by track, and then seal the record with the closing “Again, and Sweetly,” a tune which is completely antithetical to the music preceding it. Utilizing a wide variety of instruments among the three, trombonist Stephen Rush, bassist Tom Abbs and percussionist Geoff Mann seamlessly unwind one sonic scenario after the other, ensuring that the mood of each clearly unfolds.
Starting out in “Breakthrough/Zhu,” the instrumentation conjures up a jungle-like thickness akin to rhythmic tribal ceremony to open up a musical development, which includes mimicry of living creatures on an array of exotic and traditional acoustic instruments and electronics. The concept of the album grows in the listening. Everything gets bigger as if, with each track, the instruments have traveled to a new level of creating music, which is, as the music progresses, thorough and swollen, agitated and persistent, or fantastical and ominous; this is particularly audible in “Landfill/Sharks.” The music peaks incrementally from “Local Motive,” to the following “Vger” and “Wrenchwork;” Rush on Rhodes is crucial in realizing the crescendo that explodes the tempo.
That only three musicians play an assortment of instruments on Sharks simultaneously combines the idea of physical constraint with the breadth of sound-making. Hearing the hollowness of the didgeridoo, the blurts of a tuba, the quacks of a kazoo, the deep low tones of a bowed bass, the dry clicking on a drum set, the spacey chords planted on the Rhodes, or the undulations evoked by the trumpet, one can only begin to imagine how this amazing ride is being piloted.