Jim Black: Habyor

Jim Black is a noted percussive colorist whose sensitive accompaniment and unpredictable instincts have enhanced numerous gigs and recordings by a variety of artists associated with New York’s Downtown scene. On Habyor (Winter & Winter)-the third CD with his AlasNoAxis band featuring bassist Skuli Sverrisson, saxophonist and clarinetist Chris Speed and Icelandic guitarist Hilmar Jensson-Black has crafted a distinctive collection that goes for the simplicity of songs and the power of a unified band sound on Habyor. The music ranges from instrumental grunge rock (“Talk About,” “Rade,” “Endgatherers”) to fragile, achingly beautiful ballads (“Z,” “Part Wolf,” “Be Real”) to more experimental noise assaults reminiscent of early ’80s Glenn Branca (“Hello Kombiant”). “Cha” effectively combines a drum ‘n’ bass feel with a haunting refrain that recalls the Balkans-flavored sound of Pachora, Black’s other band with Speed, Sverrisson and guitarist Brad Shepik. And the pensive closer “Stay Go” may be Black’s most accessible and widely appealing composition to date.