Ready for a blast of free-jazz and avant-garde mayhem? Well, if you pick up a copy of A Night Walking Through Mirrors from the Chicago/London Underground, that is what you are in store for. Basically, this new Cuneiform release features the duo of Rob Mazurek (cornet, sampler, electronics and voice) & Chad Taylor (drums, mbira and electronics), more commonly known as the Chicago Underground, who are paired up with British improvisors Alexander Hawkins (piano) and John Edwards (double bass) for this live set recorded at Cafe OTO in London, England on April 21, 2016.
This is music (though some might arguably call it anything but) perfectly suited for the chaotic times we live in. It's angry, it's disjointed, it's dissonant...yep, it's all over the place, with hardly a catchy melody anywhere to be found. The opening title track is 24-minutes of chaos, Taylor's drums crashing around underneath wild piano explorations from Hawkins and Mazurek's screaming cornet, all the while Edwards violently thrashes his double bass. Is this free-jazz? Possibly, though it's quite noisier and angrier than anything I've heard in recent memory. The ensemble's ability to rage for 10 minutes, then transition into calmer movements before a bombastic finale is thrilling to behold. "Something Must Happen" is a harrowing, disturbing listen, angular piano cascading with menacing aggression while ominous electronics, cornet and chaotic bass rumble and explode alongside. "Boss Redux" is the first piece we come across that comes closest to what we'd normally call jazz, and though it's also on the extremely complex and dissonant side, the arrangement is quirky, providing for some intense flights from the musicians, especially the soaring cornet, busy drum work, and acrobatic piano. The rhythm team of Taylor and Edwards get plenty of room to reach out on "Mysteries of Emanating Light", another example of free-jazz colliding with chaotic avant-garde that will either test your patience of thrill you for its near 19-minute duration. That's basically how A Night Walking Through Mirrors is best described; this will be a 'love it or hate' it experience for most, and I can't imagine any middle ground. With each piece an extended slice of epic improvisation, you'll need to be in it for the long haul or left running for the exit doors. Folks with adventurous ears need only apply.
A Night Spent Walking Through Mirrors 24:17
Something Must Happen 15:22
Boss Redux 21:31
Mysteries of Emanating Light 18:43