The Ames Room - Bird Dies (Clean Feed, 2011) ****
The Ames Room may be small but their sound is bold and forceful. This French/Australian trio lays into you like the first time you got beat up as a kid. It's sheer brute force and once you finally give in there is this little blissful nature that sets in. The feeling that this might be all there is left for you. But The Ames Room help you realize there's more inside the noise than you realize. The Ames Room have only been on the scene for a short time (since 2007) but have crafted a sound that is blistering and beautiful. Fans of Vandermark, Gustafsson, Haker Flaten and Nilssen-Love are sure to gravitate to the trio's new album, Bird Dies (Clean Feed). This one piece live recording follows up where their debut, IN (Monotype Records; 2010), left off--a full frontal attack of chords against the borders of a genre.There's no build up here. The Ames Room make their statement known from the first note. They come out of the gates ripping forward like Gustafsson's The Thing in mid-performance. The staccato drums, breakneck sax and suffocating basslines that dominate the first 15 minutes of the piece are impressive for the duration as well as the stellar delivery.The gears shift only slightly around the 23min mark. Guionnet's takes the lead but is challenged perfectly by Guthrie's cascading patterns. Meanwhile Thomas paints a small rhythm in the background. There are moments just after the half hour mark that remind of Ornette Coleman's Change Of The Century. A calm descends on the closing ten minutes only to be resurrected to the opening salvo of white noise which cuts deep then comes full-stop.The audience at this performance was probably left in awe. You can only briefly feel it from low volume mic on the audience. But make no mistake The Ames Trio is building a following and will leave an indelible mark on your senses. Bird Dies is challenging music but isn't that what music is all about?
"The Ames Room is French altoist Jean-Luc Guionnet with Austrialians Clayton Thomas on bass and Will Guthrie on drums. This album is without a doubt one of the most intense you will hear, with Guionnet setting up the pace and sound from the start and then not letting go at all, despite the numerous variations within the very strict boundaries in which their cry of freedom erupts. This album is indeed one long shout, all in the same spirit : voluminous, expansive, full of drive and energy, relentless and raw, with a take-no-prisoners approach. The accompanying press kit speaks of "terror jazz", and the descriptor is not too far fetched."
This is how I described the band's album "In" released last year. I cannot add much more for this album : it is as ferocious, energetic and relentless, even further pushed to the limit because the album contains one single fourty-eight minute track, as recorded live in Lille, France in March 2010. Both Thomas and Guthrie have the approach of a rock band, bringing them closer to The Thing than to Brötzmann, while Guionnet keeps on hitting the same mid-range sonic attack with a limited choice of notes, no lyricism to speak of, but all repetitive assault of the senses, hypnotic, mad, as if something's got to give way, like an endless cry ...
For those of you who like to spice up their meals with dynamite, don't hesitate to buy this one.