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Sometimes it can be a challenge to rise above the flood of interesting music available in the new-release (let alone reissue) coffers and bring a vibe to the table that’s robust enough to grab one by the throat, offering seamless introspection within past and present. Black Host, a New York quintet nominally led by in-demand drummer Gerald Cleaver, is an improvising ensemble prepared to do just that. Cleaver is joined here by pianist Cooper-Moore, alto saxophonist Darius Jones, bassist Pascal Niggenkemper and guitarist Brandon Seabrook on a program of eight original compositions that blend modern jazz, free music, psych, post-punk and electrified noise with painstaking detail and heady abandon. The historically obsessed might name-check Albert Ayler (especially the groups with pianist Bobby Few and guitarist Henry Vestine), the early ‘70s music of Norwegians Jan Garbarek and Terje Rypdal, or Gary Windo with Carla Bley, but Black Host present dynamic, incisive and utterly contemporary music. Life in the Sugar Candle Mines is the group’s first record – hopefully one among several – a reverb-drenched and incisive stew of rhapsodic piano, searing alto and fractured guitar over rhythms that are alternately chunky and airy, rendered with a “live” energy that cuts through the cones on your speakers.
Gerald Cleaver (drums, sound design)
Cooper-Moore (piano, synth)
Brandon Seabrook (guitar)
Darius Jones (alto saxophone)
Pascal Niggenkemper (bass)