Plymouth: Plymouth

Improv veterans’ blow-out tests the nerves and the patience.

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Late of Slobber Pup, improv veterans Jamie Saft and Joe Morris (keyboards and guitar respectively), lock horns this time within a bustling and blustery quintet for three big-scale blowouts. Gerald Cleaver’s drums scuttle between Chris Lightcap’s scampering bass and the terse and quick-fire interjections between Morris and Brooklyn-based avant-guitarist, Mary Halvorson.

Her grungy chord work and harmonic blips detonate against volatile beats and erratic pulses. There are long sections which sound more like a by-product of five individuals charging forward in separate directions than a result of careful collective endeavour. Not a problem when players of this calibre are present, but as they search for a rallying point from which to aim their considerable firepower, patience is required. (The title track meanders for over half its 13-minute length before they eventually hit the target.)

Saft’s omnipresent Hammond organ summons up fiery, pervasive chords and the group is driven by a sulphurous fury. The musical language here is clipped, and often coarse to the point of brutality, but their unerring sense of self-belief carries the day.