Pillars & Tongues, Jim Becker/Butchy Fuego/Tim Kinsella, Wummin Critic's Choice Free Soundboard

When: Mon., Aug. 25, 9:30 p.m. 2008

There being (by definition) so many directions to go with free-improv music, it’s a shame so much of it has settled into predictable machismo or sterile purism. The local trio Pillars & Tongues have found a different road: their playing has a sense of communal spirituality traceable to Albert Ayler and Alice Coltrane, but there’s also a rural porchiness that reminds me more than a little of Town and Country. Early this year the group released its debut, Protection, online and in a very limited physical edition; it’ll be reissued in the fall on the Contraphonic label. They’ve also recently contributed to Contraphonic’s Little Hell series with a single, “Our Lady of the Underpass: An Emergent Grotto,” which commemorates what some took to be a miraculous appearance of the BVM in a stain on a bit of I-90/94 infrastructure a few years back. It’s accompanied by a lush booklet of photos and writing (available for download from the label or iTunes), but I didn’t need any such stuff to get the message—it’s a flicker of the numinous in a grotty corner of modernity. —Monica Kendrick

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