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Album Review

This Norwegian jazz-rock-improv-noise quartet create throbbing, trancey moods on this, their fourth full-length CD. Of course, they keep the noise level pretty high; Kjetil Møster's saxophone lines, Anders Hana's distorted guitars, Kjetil Brandsdal's throbbing bass, and Morten Olsen's pummeling drums all recall the work of the U.K.-based noise-jazz mini-orchestra God in the late '80s and early '90s. But there's more melody, and less screaming and roaring here than there was on God albums like Loco and Possession. Ultralyd frequently settle into an almost soothing, dubby groove before bursts of dissonance emerge, cutting across the sonic field. Some tracks are more aggressive than others: "Contaminated Man" is a showcase for Olsen, who plays a beat so complex it's almost a drum solo, while the guitars and sax go wild around him like something out of the Last Exit catalog, while "Street Sex" is calmer, almost post-punk/No Wave like a sleepy James Chance. The album's final cut, "Cessathlon," is both its longest and its most maniacal track, with Møster blowing harsh, almost Albert Ayler-esque horn atop another thunderous rhythm bed from Brandsdal and Olsen; it's like a more rock-oriented version of Archie Shepp's "The Magic of Ju-Ju," and it leaves the listener pleasingly exhausted when it and the album are over.

Inertiadrome, Ultralyd
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