Friday, June 10, 2016

Om - 1980 - Cerberus


01. Dreaming For The People 9:17
02. Cerberus Dance 5:50
03. Asumusa 4:51
04. At My Ease 9:24
05. Earworms 5:11
06. Eigentlich Wollte Johann Auf Dem Mond Den Andern Jazz Kennenlernen 11:32

Urs Leimgruber - Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Percussion
Christy Doran - Guitar
Bobby Burri - Bass
Fredy Studer - Drums, Percussion

Accordion – Erdman Birke

Despite the forthrightness of the playing, many of the album’s moments remind us that even the most aggressive heat shelters a coolly beating heart, which is perhaps why Cerberus (JAPO 60032) makes it into the retrospective fully intact. “Dreaming for the People” begins its formula in much the same way as the previous two examples, only here Doran takes a decidedly fragmented approach, flinging packets of salt into the stew. Mystical turns abound thereafter in “Cerberus’ Dance” and “Asumusa,” each showing the breadth of OM’s sensitivity. “At my Ease” elicits watery textures from Doran as the rhythm section inspires some headstrong lyricism from Leimgruber on tenor. The guitarist’s moment in the sun, however, comes in the company of “Earworms,” a masterful hatching of dots and dashes in swirling pools of Morse code. Yet there is nothing so insightful as the final “Eigentlich wollte Johann auf dem Mond den andern Jazz kennenlernen.” This viscous fever dream, filled with galactic whale songs and lost answers, welcomes accordionist Erdman Birke into the fray for a haunting excursion into the soul. With the persistence of a flare drowning in an electronic swamp, it awakens hidden feelings. A radio blurs in and out of vision, intimations of faraway lands and rituals, painstakingly whitewashed until they bow in deference to the ether. In this music we can trace a satellite’s path.

To listen to OM is to witness an evolutionary process in biological time. This superbly assembled collection of music we can taste, smell, and touch, then, holds the key to its own reveal. It has a tinge of ash, a starchy texture, and licks like fire in a burning house, abandoned except for the music that has inhabited it for so long. Its magic has nothing to do with mystery, for it speaks with voices we already have in mind. Whether or not we recognize them is of no consequence. They know us inside and out.

Although OM disbanded in 1982, its members did reunite for a live performance at Switzerland’s 2008 Jazzfestival Willisau. The resulting Willisau (2010, Intakt Records) throws us farther down the rabbit hole and bears seeking out for its playful intensities.

Tyran Grillo

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