Tuesday, February 04, 2014


With a crunching sound that is as teeth-chatteringly heavy as metal icons like Slayer and Megadeth or ferocious grindcore groups like Napalm Death and Brutal Truth, yet is imbued with the freedom principle of such avant garde jazz icons as saxophonists Marshall Allen, Albert Ayler and Peter Brötzman, the formidable instrumental power trio from Scotland known as Free Nelson Mandoom Jazz debuts on the London-based RareNoise label with a provocative double EP that will confound jazz critics as it challenges the thrashmetal-grindcore community. Jointly named for the late South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela and the genre of fuzz-bass-inflected heavy-duty improvisation dubbed 'doomjazz', this renegade trio of bassist Colin Stewart, drummer Archibald and alto saxophonist Rebecca Sneddon rattles the very grey matter of your brain on their imposing Shape of Doomjazz to Come/Saxophone Giganticus.
With a throbbing, slow-grooving undercurrent created by bassist Stewart and drummer Archibald, freewheeling saxophonist Sneddon wails with impunity in the altissimo register of her horn on doomjazz anthems like "Where My Soul Can Be Free," "The Mask of the Red Death" and "Black Sabbath." Their atmospheric "Nobody Fucking Posts to the UAE" takes a more deliberately melodic approach with Stewart's unaffected basslines doubling with Sneddon's alto sax on the head before she embarks on a searching solo. Midway through this more introspective piece, Stewart kicks on his fuzzbox and Archibald slams more emphatically as Sneddon builds to some cathartic blowing on her horn. "K54", inspired by Domenico Scarlatti's K54 sonata, introduces a swing element into the proceedings with Stewart's up-tempo walking basslines and Archibald's insistent ride cymbal work. 

The trio navigates through some intricate stop-time passages before Stewart once again stomps on his distortion pedal, a cue for Sneddon to head for the stratosphere with her emphatic overblowing on the alto sax. "Saxophone Giganticus" (the title a playful mutation of Sonny Rollin's "Saxophone Colossus") finds the trio in a more relaxed mode with Stewart's clean bass lines and didgeridoo combining to create a darkly insinuating undercurrent for Sneddon's sinewy sax lines. A little less than midway through, this kinder, gentler approach evaporates in the face of another formidable doomjazz excursion. And the closing track, "Black Sabbath," carries all the heavyweight underpinnings that name would imply while including some of Sneddon's most ferocious, take-no-prisoners approach to overblowing on the recording. These brand new recordings were mixed by renowned Italian sound sculptor Eraldo Bernocchi. A brand new album is currently being worked on and will be released later this year. 


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