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Altra Strata

Blast

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Album Review

Blast's fifth release, Altrastrata, sees them back to the quartet lineup of their earlier albums and with one new member aboard in Italian drummer Fabrizio Spera (best known for his free improv work, in particular as part of the experimental electro-acoustic group Ossatura). Some people saw in A Sophisticated Face the summit of this group's art, but others were mildly annoyed by its excesses. Altrastrata brings it back to exciting basics: a hard, fast-hitting quartet playing intricate compositions that leave room for improvisation, whether as backed-up soloists or as pockets of all-out improv. Saxophonist Dirk Bruinsma has rarely been in better shape. He flutters and stutters his way through extremely complex yet driving melodic lines that recall Henry Cow as seen through the eyes of Doctor Nerve. His "Walking Matters" opens the album with a groovy bang (and a displaced hip for anyone who'll attempt to actually dance — or even walk — to it). "Tectonic Re-birth" may very well be the meanest, most infectious piece Blast have recorded so far. Infectious is not a word you'd normally use when discussing this band, but Altrastrata, without resorting to highly intellectual chamber rock writing, also displays something more in the bottom end. Is it the occasional use of gritty electronic textural backdrops or simply that the guys are trying less hard and doing it even better? Year-end Top Ten material, you betcha. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 1989 in The Netherlands

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Formed in 1989, European avant ensemble Blast play both scored and improvised music with a distinct Rock in Opposition edge. Most often a quartet and as of 2009 comprised of Dutch saxophonist Dirk Bruinsma and guitarist Frank Crijns (both of whom are featured on all of the group's discs thus far), Swiss bassist Paed Conca, and Italian drummer Fabrizio Spera, Blast perform music often centered in avant rock while ranging from total improvisation to complex written passages and extensive use of counterpoint....
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Altra Strata, Blast
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