Bill Meyer // Dusted (August 12, 2019)

If you’re mainly acquainted with Mette Rasmussen through her collaborations with American musicians like Chris Corsano and Paul Flaherty, this record will change your perspective as surely as having the glasses knocked off of your nose will affect your vision. When in America, she seems to have done as certain Americans before her have done. There’s a long tradition of fire music here, and she’s plugged into it. But there’s more to her than that.

In the company of French guitarist Julien Desprez, the Danish alto saxophonist’s playing is just as fiery but less bound by tradition. Instead of riding the molten flow, this duo creates music that feels chopped and scrambled even though it is being made before your ears. At some points she plays coarse exhalations and brief, effortful gulps, which toss and tumble with the guitarist’s pops, harmonics and scrapes like a salad of nuts and apples that’s been tossed into a spinning clothes dryer. Other times, horn and guitar pour twin streams of elongated tone like a couple of painters dumping their personally mixed hues into some river; what starts out thick and bright becomes diffuse and cloudy as it spreads and recedes.

You don’t have to see them in action to know that they’re both physical players. You can feel lungs being emptied with diaphragm-bruising force, and you can also hear the moments when fist meets wood. But the album’s title provides another clue to their shared aesthetic. One gets the sense that they don’t
play their instruments out of love. No, they’re things that can obstruct one’s progress, objects that need to be moved around, and tools to get to the other side of something. You don’t hear them playing; you hear them working to get past their absurdly shaped but sonorous gadgets.

 

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