Peter Brötzmann & Paal Nilssen-Love & Mats Gustafsson, The Fat Is Gone

Charles Farrell

By Charles Farrell

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Make sure you're alone in the house. Take the phone off the hook. Shut the windows. Get comfortable. Download The Fat Is Gone. Crank up your sound system. And be very thankful that Peter Brötzmann, Paal Nilssen-Love and Mats Gustafsson recorded this uncompromising scream of an album.

An uncompromising scream of an album.

The Fat Is Gone is really about voices. All three musicians (but especially Brötzmann) speak through their instruments. This impulse to vocalize subsumes matters of technique and linearity. The music doesn't “go” anywhere; it exists moment to moment, snarling and biting. As jazz grows increasingly mediated through a multiplicity of influences, the kind of pure energy music played by this company is threatened with extinction. (Only saxophonist Charles Gayle might be said to occupy a similar space.) It's liberating to hear it in its unadulterated form. "Bullets Through the Rain" begins with an almost unspeakable intensity and then maintains that level.

How drummer Nilssen-Love can power his way through the savage yowling of the two saxophonists is a mystery. "Colors in Action" begins as a desolate duet between drums and Brötzmann's (I think) lonely tenor, but within a couple of minutes the intensity again builds, moving toward a powerful tenor solo by Gustafsson at the halfway mark. Exhilarating stuff. The final title track is marginally less frenzied, although never less dramatic. Each musician spends a bit more time saying his piece solo. The album closes with a strange and moving fluttering of saxophone keys and brushed drumming, ending in unpretty beauty.