As members of Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin, sax player Sha and drummer Kaspar Rast contribute impeccably taut and sparse lines to that group’s patented brand of ‘zen funk’. Released from those necessary constraints, the pair can stretch out, and are found here on fiery and thrillingly explosive form. Joined by guitarist Urs Müller and bassist Lionel Gafner, this live recording combines elements of jazz and rock but is emphatically not prone to any sleek noodling whatsoever.
Beginning with a cloud of glowering feedback, their energetic takes on Oceansize’s Build Us A Rocket Then… and Massive Bereavement exert a steely authority on frantic interlocking sections.
The remaining Sha-composed tracks are no less invigorating, slipping gamely from sultry, slow-build shuffles, riotous VdGG-like rifferama-dramas, impressionistic daubs and crunching, full-frontal chordal attacks. Guitar and sax frequently spiral up in gravity-defying unison, fierce yet intensely melodic.
Driven by an inventive rhythm section whose crisp, intelligent delivery pushes and stokes the band, this is a sturdy and muscular EP-sized debut. It’s short, but rich with promise.