Improvising trio Kuzu combines fire with finesse on a new LP | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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Improvising trio Kuzu combines fire with finesse on a new LP

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Kuzu formed in 2017, when electric guitarist Tashi Dorji and drummer Tyler Damon invited saxophonist Dave Rempis to join their duo onstage at Elastic Arts. The set went so well that they recorded an album the next day. Anyone who knew what that record’s title, Hiljaisuus, means in Finnish probably just thought the trio were trolling—“silence” was the last thing you’d expect from three musicians so adept at managing high volume, and they’d delivered exactly the sort of blistering barrage you’d expect. But on their first tour in fall 2018, Kuzu added nuance and variety to their improvisations’ default intensity. They had the presence of mind to record evidence of their evolution as they went, and they’ve been releasing documents of it ever since. This month’s The Glass Delusion—named for a psychological phenomenon first identified among affluent medieval Europeans, which causes the afflicted to believe they’re made of breakable crystal—is the third such album. “It Simply Becomes Jammed” is a 31-minute set recorded at their de facto home base, Elastic Arts, and despite the intimations of stuckness in its title, it’s a study in the cultivation and management of dynamic tension. The trio build from tiny gestures to a stampeding charge, then subside to a simmering stew of tart tones before breaking into an unmetered sledgehammer duel. And “Gnash,” recorded at the same Milwaukee concert that yielded last year’s Purple Dark Opal, layers together long reed tones, rustling brushwork, and ridgelines of feedback to create a sonic expression of bleak lunar topography. Each of Kuzu’s 2018 recordings has taken us further from where they started, which makes it less certain what the group might sound like next—and more exciting to find out.   v

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