Though it sounds totally unrestrained and spontaneous to the untrained ear, â€śfree jazzâ€ť this ainâ€™t. Percussionist and composer Michael WertmĂĽllerâ€™s dense academic composition (50 pages long, according to the press release) is propelled by complex layers of polyrhythms which he delivers with furious, bombastic energy. Its title is a nod to Miles Davisâ€™ Sketches of Spain album, which was notably scored with ample orchestral arrangements by Gil Evans. WertmĂĽller augments his regular Full Blast trio of Peter BrĂ¶tzmann (sax) and Mariano Plankas (e-bass) with friends Thomas Heberer (trumpet), Ken Vandermark (bari sax, clarinet), and Dirk Rothbust (percussion). To feel the apparent spontaneity of the sonic outburstsâ€”particularly from BrĂ¶tzmann, who plays in a less explosive and unrestrained approach compared to his apocalyptic opus Machine Gunâ€”while also knowing that this is a thoughtfully arranged atonal suite, evokes a surreal listening experience.
This should appeal to fans of Cecil Taylor, Milford Graves, and Max Roach, though WertmĂĽllerâ€™s style is much less spiritual. There are intensely fast moments in which the drums match the blastbeat tempos of grindcore and Albert Aylerâ€™s most avant-garde work, but this pastiche of motifs squirms restlessly from one tempo to the next. It feels as if the sextet has induced synesthesia, and their performance is the sound of a gorgeously unintelligible mathematical formula devised by a starkravingmad genius who hasnâ€™t left his bookcluttered office in eight years. Rapidfire squealing for [x] amount of bars, followed by scattered schizophrenic crooning; wander around in every tempo in between; repeat; throw in a dash of extended solo features. As the screws begin to loosen in his head, his work is colored by spurts of Coltrane-esque sheets of sound, yet he tenaciously holds to his pragmatic zeal and expands his ideas beyond their conceivable limits. Like many labored works of great artists and thinkers throughout the centuries, this composition may be endlessly misunderstoodâ€”it could be his â€śZarathustra,â€ť his â€śBitches Brewâ€ťâ€”but it is in these murky depths of musical confusion that the listener should nevertheless find plenty to appreciate and enjoy.