The apocalyptic wails and jet-engine rumble squelched out by the Brooklyn-based trio GRID are pure catharsis. That this ungodly yet trance-inducing racket comes from only a saxophone/bass/drums lineup is mind-boggling but also testament to their pedigree. Two-thirds of GRID—saxophonist Matt Nelson (also of Amirtha Kidambi’s Elder Ones and Battle Trance) and bassist Tim Dahl—are current members of the Flying Luttenbachers, Weasel Walter’s self-anointed “brutal-prog” outfit, and drummer Nick Podgurski is an integral force in the metal underground as well as a risk-taking improviser.
On the trio’s 2017 self-titled debut, Nelson, Dahl, and Podgurski nodded to the likes of Borbetomagus and Peter Brötzmann but proved to be no throwback. Hot on the heels of a highly recommended collaboration with no-wave queen Lydia Lunch, they return to wreak more havoc with their sophomore effort. On the aptly titled Decomposing Force, their singular free improv is doomier and gloomier than ever, a perfect soundtrack for the hellacious abyss that is 2020.
“Brutal Kings” kicks off Decomposing Force, immediately setting the tone for a sustained 38-minute firestorm; the shortest tune on the record at over four minutes, it may fly off the rails with spastic abandon but it swings too. With Podgurski as angular anchor, Nelson and Dahl—through their array of effects pedals—generate a bloodcurdling din. The squeals that Nelson coaxes from his saxophone have never sounded as haunting as on the shadowy, warped “The Weight of Literacy” and “Cold Seep.” Using electronics, noise, and metal elements, GRID have pulled off a near-impossible feat in sounding like a free-jazz Sunn O))).