Thursday, March 1, 2018

“Heel Flipper” C48
(Small Scale Music)

The Sommes Ensemble toured Europe in 2015 and 2016. Wanna know how I know that? “Heel Flipper” is the result, a document of the “strategic, organized chaos” the quartet blazed through the clubs they visited. Featuring alto sax, guitar, bass, and drums, the ensemble is an unsightly smear of fusion and free jazz and free-form freakouts, a perfect signing for Montreal’s Small Scale Music, a purveyor of the strange and the challenging. Whether the Sommes Ensemble is blasting out shards of anti-jazz or stirring a sonic cauldron of audio witches’ brew with the deepest restraint (we are on the cusp of Halloween as I write, after all), the result is never less than captivating. Or visceral. Definitely visceral, what with all the shredding and slashing and other instrumental violence wreaked upon (probably very willing and totally primed) audiences. You can hear the musicians’ skin lacerating and the blood pouring as they play, such is the intensity of performance. The unholy bacchanal of arterial spray surely whipped their audiences into frenzies so uninhibited that old Freddy Krueger himself would blush if he heard it (and if he had facial skin). But what makes “Heel Flipper” much more than just a live document is the inventiveness and the singular in-the-moment clicking of personalities. The energy is beyond palpable – it’s mesmerizing, and it penetrates you like old Freddy Krueger’s knife hand, scrambling your equilibrium as if it were opening an irreparable chest would. But of course everybody left the Sommes sessions unscathed, and probably more than a little keyed up. But mostly happy, at least until their next brush with violent death at the hands of a fictional monster… Or their next Sommes Ensemble show. Boo! Halloween…

Small Scale Music

--Ryan Masteller