(MoonJune Records MJR041. CD review by Chris Parker)
Anyone who's heard the fierce prog-rock/free-jazz mix that is DouBt (a trio made up of US-born drummer Tony Bianco, Belgian guitarist Michel Delville and UK keyboardist Alex Maguire) will know what to expect from this band, in which Maguire is replaced by multi-instrumentalist Jodi Grognard.
The tricksy time-signatures, blistering guitar solos and thunderous drumming of avant-rock are combined with flute-centred extemporisations (memorably termed 'shamanic soundscapes' in the album's publicity) and the odd passage of free improvisation (notably an eighteen-minute duo, 'Falling Up', from Delville and Bianco), but it is perhaps Bianco's musical creed – to be 'loose and tense, free and strict' – that most accurately pins down Machine Mass Trio's music.
Bianco, as at home with free players such as the late Elton Dean and Paul Dunmall as with more overtly structured music, underpins everything the trio plays with his bristling, urgent yet unfettered drumming, providing the perfect launchpad for the solo flights (on both conventional and synth guitars and, occasionally, bouzouki) of Delville, while Grognard completes the sonic pattern with everything from tenor saxophone and flute to bass clarinet and electronics.
Admirers of Delville's acclaimed quintet the Wrong Object, as well as aficionados of progressive rock and free jazz, will all find something to enjoy in this multi-faceted, vibrantly powerful album.