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Less is more when it comes to Tyft, particularly if the trio heard here is considered part of the Human Feel family tree. Saxophonist Andrew D'Angelo and drummer Jim Black were both in that group, which started in Boston with a somewhat traditional jazz quintet lineup before moving to New York during the '90s and continuing without a bassist. The four members of Human Feel turned this new configuration to their advantage, using the space vacated by the bass as an empty canvas on which their own contributions seemed all the more bold and punchy. Icelandic guitarist Hilmar Jensson, a present-day Black collaborator who hung with the Human Feel boys during his Berklee days, now seemingly carries Human Feel's model of shrinkage even further, and with similarly punched-up results, by eliminating one of the reed voices. But Jensson hasn't merely come up with an even smaller Human Feel. First, that was a collaborative ensemble and this is very much Jensson's project. And as a player, Jensson is emphatically not Kurt Rosenwinkel, Human Feel's guitarist. The man from Reykjavik seems less inclined to pursue a "jazz" direction, as his jagged electric guitar power chords vie for attention with intimate acoustic interludes and experimental noise, sometimes all in the same track. Tyft can be a jittery listen, with Black's concussive drums and D'Angelo's alto squeals brashly inserted amidst quieter, even austere segments suggesting an Icelandic take on the ECM school. And since all three musicians here are card-carrying members of the laptop generation, even the tundra jazz portions have a disquieting aspect: Electronic hums, buzzes, rattles, and undefinable sounds intrude upon the calm, as if to suggest that there is nowhere left even to strum an acoustic guitar in peace these days. (Intrusiveness is taken to a really personal level in the reading of "family correspondence" by one Israel Fish during "Indelable Scars.") At 46 minutes, Tyft is a bit short by today's standards, but the CD's varied moods give it the feel of a mini-epic. Less is more indeed.
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