Sound of Choice

Av-Art / AACD1006

Hasse Poulsen / guitars, electronics, voice, Lars Juul / percussion, voice, Fredrik Lundin / reeds, electronics, Lars Møller / reeds, voice, Thomas Sandberg / vibes, percussion, voice

The underpinning of these pieces is a rattling, percussive tachism formed of junk objects and heavily prepared instruments, but the record as a whole has a surprisingly feelgood vibe. What really makes it work is the use of Lundlin and Moller’s rather smooth, melodic saxophone playing. They may often take an atonal approach — one can hardly comp a chord progression on brake blocks and arco cymbals, after all — but they’re straight out of the Sonny Rollins school, using motifs to develop ideas horizontally in a really quite unexpected but wholly convincing manner.


Hasse Poulsen | Photo: Peter Gannushkin

Once you get past the alarm-clock opening, you could even drift off to sleep to this disk. Which would be a shame, because you’d miss some fascinating music. At their best, Sound of Choice are beautifully understated, and even on tracks like “dynamics 9”, a skronk-fest for the two reedmen accompanied by staccato noises, there’s a static feel to the music which seems to suspend time rather than making it rush forward. Poulsen is a fine and flexible player, sounding like a cross between Derek Bailey and Larry Coryell on acoustic guitar while passing seamlessly from Keith Rowe-style abstraction to keening Frippian linearity on electric.

When the group goes for a percussion-based onslaught, the result can sound like someone sorting through a big box of spoons, which is rather hard going. When they get this feel right, though, some listeners might be pleasantly reminded of John Stevens’ hectic, scattergun textures. These pieces are very much in the minority, in any case, and the overall meditative, thoughtful approach yields music in which every detail matters. Essential for fans of AMM; recommended for just about everyone else, too. Richard Cochrane