Sound On Survival

Henceforth Records 101

Overstuffed with searing improvisations, this live disc confirms that unadorned Energy music still thrives, and that geography is becoming increasingly musically irrelevant.

Built around a magnificent, almost-40-minute performance, recorded in and titled “Philadelphia”, the Sound on Survival (SOS) trio also lets loose on three other tracks, captured in Amherst, Mass. However two of the band members are Canadians who now live in the Bay area – drummer Peter Valsamis is a former Montrealer, while Vancouver native Lisle Ellis, is bassist of choice for a variety of left coast ensembles. SOS’ guiding force is long-time Bay area alto saxophonist Marco Eneidi who has since relocated to Germany.

The three attack “Philadelphia” with an intensity suggesting the energetic trio work of Ornette Coleman or Jimmy Lyons. Constantly shifting tempos and theme variations, the performance is modern enough to leave space for Ellis’ rasping electronics to extend his throbbing walking or cello-like vibrations.

Reserved himself, Valsamis seconds each movement from the other two. When Eneidi introduces twittering and slurring, he counters with rumbles and cross-sticking. Sul ponticello squirming from Ellis brings forth floor-tom accents plus cymbal ruffling. Upfront, the altoist spins out arpeggio after arpeggio and slur after slur. Braking to an early false climax, he then accelerates into a shower of side-slipping, glottal patterning and trumpet-like retches. Eventually the three coalesce to drive the rhythmic intermingling ever upward to a tension dissipating point. The similarly paced, but shorter preceding tracks, serve as a nourishing appetizer to this main gourmet meal.

— Ken Waxman