Here, on his fifth album, the American saxophonist and Arcade Fire/Bon Iver collaborator Colin Stetson conjures a thrilling, muscular vision of modern jazz that introduces subtle rhythmic alterations to his fiery, minimalist style.
The Montreal-based bass saxophone player and composer Colin Stetson has been busy broadening his range in recent years, re-tooling Gorecki’s ‘Third Symphony’ and working with the likes of Justin Vernon, My Brightest Diamond, Badbadnotgood, Laurie Anderson, Sarah Neufeld and Ex Eye.
His new opus, ‘All This I Do For Glory’, sees a return to the unabashed singularity of his earlier work that also embraces a renewed percussive vigour. As ever with the mercurial honker, this is ‘jazz’ reverberating through the prisms of glitchy electronica and Steve Reich/Philip Glass-like minimalism rather than wading through the concert hall or conservatoire terrain of flowing be-bop or incendiary free jazz.
The hypnotic opening title track finds Stetson on sun-dappled form, punctuating serene, almost Balearic phrases with jittery shrieks and hollers, prioritising atmosphere over lyricism. Underpinned by a loping beat that could be from the Flying Lotus toolbox, it showcases the abrasive and percussive qualities of his instrument, whilst bringing to mind the emergence of a mythical, lumbering creature from its lair as it rises from hibernation.
‘Like Wolves on the fold’ commences like an Aphex Twin-styled piece of IDM with a recurring reed motif, then swells to epic proportions with the injection of what sounds like a horse being whipped, cantering to a howling, tumultuous conclusion. The chilly ‘Between water and wind’ surrounds the horn-blower’s elongated notes with a disconcerting bass rumble; here his trademark circular breathing imbues the tune with even more of an agitated physicality.
The lush ‘Spindrift’ sees Stetson summon a grandiose, synapse-melting vista from his sky-scraping flutter, a Nils Frahm-like voyage of soothing ambient noise flecked by rays of pristine sunlight. ‘In The Clinches’ flies out the traps with raw bustle and honk, a bellicose bellowing demonstrating an affinity for bending awkward combinations from between musical notes. ‘The lure of the mine’ builds patiently towards a fevered catharsis, climaxing with a fizzing break-beat outro.
For those listeners ready to submit to the unrelenting, ‘off into the woods’ vision of an uncompromising artist operating at the peak of his powers, you’ll find a plethora of pleasures on this disc; even in his gnarliest, wilderness moments there’s always a goosebump payoff.