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The Rempis Percussion Quartet: Rip Tear Crunch

Rip Tear Crunch is from the creative mind of saxophonist Dave Rempis and his group, the Rempis Percussion Quartet. Rempis paid his dues on the Chi-town improvisational music scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s with such innovative and tradition-torching bands as Ken Vandermark’s Vandermark 5. Like many albums in this genre that use unfamiliar lineups and utilize little if any melody, Rip Tear Crunch is alternately stark and dense; in fact, it is so empty in sound on many occasions you get the impression the band is preparing for a poet to enter the studio screaming anarchist bohemian verse.

But Rip Tear Crunch is verse on its own, and “Shreds,” the opening number, is impressively poetic and percussive. The chopstick sounds at the start and the ever-present boom of bassist Anton Hatwich is harmonic, in a sense; it has a theme, and Rempis states that motif with a loud, crisp saxophonic scream. Tim Daisy and Frank Rosaly, the percussion team driving this one home and the other half of the quartet, force Rempis to play with direction despite the focus on the moment. The closing call-and-response between Hatwich and Rempis is engaging and unpredictable, all elements necessary for a successful musical venture regardless of your artistic choices.

“Rip Tear Crunch” is a mammoth effort of experimental improvisational music. There are multiple twists and turns after its bouncy beginning, and the composition even takes a turn a la “A Love Supreme” where bassist Hatwich is left to fend for himself in quiet space. How that worked back then for Garrison is considered a mixed bag to many, but luckily here, Rempis does not leave Hatwich for long as he creeps back into the fold at the appropriate moment and begins serenading again.

Strangely enough, the shortest tune here, “Dirty Words Can Be Clean Fun,” is the most intriguing. It is a brief statement of caustic dissonance, yet it invokes the clearest emotions of all the tunes. You hear the late Albert Ayler in this one seeking order and trying to breathe easy. Rempis tries awfully hard to say a lot, too, but in a little over two minutes, it is next to impossible.

Originally Published