This brilliant quintet effort from Canadian drummer/percussionist Thom Gossage, Remi Boldue (alto saxophone), Frank Lozano (tenor and soprano saxophones and bass clarinet), Miles Perkin (bass and vocals), and Gary Schwartz (guitars) is as aurally challenging as it is musically shimmering. All compositions and arrangements are from Gossage, though it is a safe assumption that much of this is free blowing, as well.
On the opening "Ring and the Rainier," for instance, the saxophones create a pressure dynamic, on which it sounds as if they are pushing away, almost like reversed magnets. The guitar and percussion are at once complimentary and tandem with the saxophones, creating an interesting pattern. The following "Dubious Distinction," at nearly 13 minutes far and away the longest piece, announces with percussion, introduces soprano and bass clarinet, wonderfully expressive and busy percussion and contrapuntal saxophones. Jogging bass and low register tenor work a melody in a whirlwind. The swirling takes them away and they fight for melodic space again before being once again taken by the maelstrom. The drumming and quiet/then distance effects guitar work well together, as does the drumming with saxophones section.
"Odeto," with guest voice work from Joshua Lebofsky, in introduced by bass clarinet and drums and has a gorgeous alto melody that straddles the line between in and out. On "Nomad" the quick paced drumming, bass and saxes set a melodic flavor into which a superb alto solo is placed. On "The Now Beyond, Part I" only guitar and the voice of bassist Perkin are heard in what can only be called a stunning duo. The following "The Now Beyond, Part II" offers more of the voice played against and with drums/percussion, bass clarinet, alto and guitar in a magnificent display of the musicianship of the players.
"Slow Poke" is set up with a nice guitar intro with voice. The percussion and saxophones offer a loud, relatively dissonant contrast to the acoustic guitar and voice that maintain their posture under the swirl before breaking free from the storm and sharing space with an unobtrusive alto. The arco bass that intros "Requiem" gives way to percussion and tenor in a cinematic feel. Guitar and an extraordinary array of percussive sounds work the outside while the tenor repeats a motif before melding into an astounding straight blow solo. Gossage introduces an autoharp played over honking saxes and what sounds like electronic manipulation.
"A L’Echelle Humaine" shifts from intense to a sun filled glen, while the brief "Go West" offers a nice tenor and guitar exchange. "Swamp Suite" is guitar with effects, dialoguing saxes impervious to the guitar and drums filling in an entirely different temporal shape. Though this is composed and arranged music, it is also avant-garde in its presentation. It is extremely complex and captivating music that comes highly recommended.