Tim Berne — Science Friction
(Screwgun SCREWU 013, 2002, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2005-09-01The current direction of modern saxophone icon Tim Berne began in 2002 with this eight piece CD featuring his world class multi-talented quartet. Studio versions of “Huevos,” and “Manatee Woman” (both highlights of the live Thirsty Ear recording from 2003) indicate that the initial quartet’s stance of improvisation is fire-starting but perhaps not quite as intuitive. Short tracks such as “Mikromas” and “The Mallomar Maneuvre” offer much needed relief to the complex dialogue between the performers that requires serious heavy listening. Berne’s playing is central to the success of the disc as he is on top of careful key changes and adept with brash punctuation at key points. Keyboardist Craig Taborn is simply a joy to listen to across the disc on electric piano. His adept accompaniment works in tandem with guitarist Marc Ducret as both players weave in and out of the complex sound map. Ducret himself is especially volatile on the opening cut and acclaimed drummer Tom Rainey shows how he anchors the group’s tempo and embellishes diverging melodic lines. The most effective piece is perhaps “Sigh Fry,” which begins from a pastoral ambiguous mood and evolves into an unsettling base for Ducret’s histrionics. David Torn applies his Spattercell alter ego for production work that pushes the collective results into another realm. There is no doubt that these performers were on to something special that is so much greater than the sum of their individual parts.
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