Drummer/percussionist/composer Jim Black is a member of the exceptionally groovy Balkan/Middle-Eastern/jazz outfit Pachora, of whose praises I’ve sung in these pages. This, to my knowledge, is Mr. Black’s maiden voyage as a leader. (He’s also played & recorded with Tim Berne’s Bloodcount, Chris Speed and Dave Douglas’ Tiny Bell Trio, among others.) The line-up on Alasnoaxis is virtually the same as Pachora: Black, the tenor sax & clarinet of Chris Speed, the electric bass of Skuli Sverrisson, with guitarist Hilmar Jenssen instead of Brad Shepik. Which is not to imply that this in anyway sounds like Pachora far from it. It’s not an easy album to hang a name on. At times this sounds like a jazz album: the ethereal yet elegant Paul Bley/John Surman-like "Ambacharm" and the brief Albert Ayler-meets-Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time) "Poet Staggered." Often times it sounds like a prog-rock (i.e., King Crimson, Embryo) or a "post-rock" album (i.e., Tortoiseson’s bass is almost like a force of nature rippling, sinuous, dark, like a storm about to happen. Alasnoaxis is oddly named, as there is one: the "axis" running through it is a willingness to take chances with the possibilities of contemporary music, while maintaining the focus that comes from realizing that people have to listen to this stuff. (In other words, this album sidesteps the pit-trap of "we’re playing for us/it’s all about the process of music-making/screw the audience/it’s all about the moment" that some "creative music projects" fall victim to.) Total time: 72 minutes, 15 seconds. And it’s got neat-o packaging (unique to Winter & Winter product) to boot. Three thumbs up!