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Crawlspace/Universal Noir: Crawlspace/Universal Noir

This two-headed recording features improvisational outings by soprano saxophonist Bhob Rainey, and percussionist Eric Rosenthal, who obviously share an empathetic headspace in the throes of musical conversation. Together, they are Crawlspace. With Jack Wright on saxophone and wood flute and Taylor Ho Bynum on trumpet, the moniker becomes Universal Noir, who generate the 15-minute “parts I-IV.”

By any handle, the music projects a strange, sometimes hermetic, and generally affecting atmosphere. The recording is dry, without a sense, real or imposed, of a “room sound”: in a sense, it sounds as if it could have been recorded in a crawlspace, with a resulting closeness of sensibilities. A tacit veneer of narrative tension is further supported by titles like “Whereby the Villain Seeks Repose” and “Throughout Which a Plea Unfolds.” Monk’s “Ugly Beauty,” played by Rainey with a sine-wavering intonation atop Rosenthal’s squirrely, mumbly splatterings, is a cerebral curio, ugly and beautiful in a new way. Ditto, the rest.

Originally Published