Spunk and Joelle Leandre -  Live in Molde (CD +3db Records)

Spunk are a Norwegian free improv quartet utilising electronics alongside an array of wind and string instruments. Here they are captured at a live performance with the prolific French double bassist/vocalist whose own rich pedigree includes collaborations with all from Lindsay Cooper to Steve Lacy, Derek Bailey, Noel Akchote and Fred Frith, amongst others, besides infinite solo recordings and performances. An impressive CV, it has to be said. Over the six pieces here, only three of which are collaborative (including the encore), a lot of warmth is evident in what can only be described as a natural,organic approach either tenderly or erratically nodding towards more avant-strained jazz, folk and modern composition. Each instrument in these pieces is allowed to breathe and thereís no jostling for attention as space and subtlety are clearly as important as the tension that haphazardly and steadfastly rises. On the fourth track, Spunk alone hold sway and deliver another intense exchange, but even this barely betrays their ability in working together and being tapped into the same intuitive wellspring. Two solo Leandre performances serve the most refined environs throughout the entire set, casting yet more colour into a space already exploding with it, whilst the encore itself once more carefully exaggerates nuance over anything more molten. Iím sure this would have been even more powerful caught first-hand. What more to say? RJ.

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