Lage Lund: Terrible Animals (Criss Cross)

A review of the Norwegian-born guitarist's album featuring Sullivan Fortner, Tyshawn Sorey, and Larry Grenadier

Lage Lund, Terrible Animals
The cover of Terrible Animals by Lage Lund

Launched in 2014, celebrated guitarist Lage Lund’s quartet with pianist Sullivan Fortner, drummer Tyshawn Sorey, and bassist Matt Brewer has since played occasional engagements in New York. But the group hasn’t been captured on a recording until now. Terrible Animals, with Larry Grenadier rather than Brewer on bass, offers the group’s takes on 10 original compositions by the Norwegian-born Lund. The provocative music is marked by a variety of musical and emotional contrasts: beautiful melodies versus sometimes noisy electronic effects, hard-grooving fusion versus rootsy Americana-ish passages, open spaces versus artfully crowded acoustic-electric soundscapes.

Opener “Hard Eights,” inspired by the sights and sounds of a Reno casino, alternates between a cascading theme and minor-toned dissonance before opening up for rangy solo turns by Fortner and Lund; tonally, the guitarist continues to reference the likes of Pat Metheny, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and even Bill Frisell. The sprawling “Suppressions,” inspired in part by Coltrane’s “Impressions,” opens with a floaty section before trimming down to just guitar and slow-walking bass and later growing more energetic. At 10 minutes long, “Ray Ray” thrives on an ambling groove and a soaring theme that seems to expand by the end of the tune, which climaxes with Sorey’s intensifying trap-kit declarations.

The disc’s second half traverses some different terrain from the first. “Octoberry” has Lund’s acoustic guitar sounding like an African kalimba and Grenadier and Fortner engaging in a tête-à-tête, while “Brasilia,” penned in the city of the same name, feels like an off-kilter samba. Grenadier steps out for some well-deployed solo space on “Take It Eas.” The brief title track, its name taken from a Kurt Vonnegut quote, runs on tumbling drums and squiggly, effects-laden guitar squalls. “We Are There Yet” makes for a sweet, laidback closer.

Preview, buy or download Terrible Animals on Amazon!

Philip Booth

Philip Booth is a longtime arts journalist and bass player based in Florida. Formerly the pop music critic for the Tampa Tribune, he has contributed to many national publications, recently including the Washington PostJazziz, and Relix. His byline also has appeared in DownBeat, Bass Player, Billboard, Variety, Spin, Rolling Stone, and several academic journals. The debut CD from his band, Acme Jazz Garage, gained airplay on about 35 radio stations across the US.