Nobody who's been paying attention to me the last few years (does such a beautiful soul even exist in this dreary old world?) is going to be surprised that I think Battle Trance's new album Blade of Love is the hot grease. The New York tenor sax quartet's 2014 debut Palace of Wind, and the performance I saw of that album's titular piece around the time of its release, were easily among my favorites of that year, their uncanny meeting of howl-at-the-moon blurt and scientific precision being just the thing to really burn a hole in this ol' cortex. Matthew Nelson, Jeremy Viner, Patrick Breiner, and bandleader Travis Laplante have adapted and refined a litany of extended techniques, cribbed from post-Cage composition and free jazz, into something all but undeniable, making something surprisingly accessible and powerful out of tools which could easily lapse into meandering abstraction in other hands/mouths.
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