There’s No Going Back Now
Cuneiform Rune 232

By Ken Waxman

Passionate, concentrated and substantial, this veteran British quartet’s new CD is an up-to-date variation on so-called Energy Music, with a series of high intensity themes and variations toyed with over the course of a single 45-minute improvisation.

At points reminiscent of the techniques and talents of John Coltrane’s classic 1960s quartet, Mujician proves that all-out commitment to constant musical challenges is no more a psychedelic relic than a desire for world peace. Appropriately titled, There’s No Going Back Now begins with low frequency piano chording and gentling saxophone lines to work itself up to no-holds-barred Free Jazz.

The most obvious pyrotechnic displays comes from the two-handed key punctuation and resonating slides and stops from pianist Keith Tippett plus the cawing multiphonics and harsh overblowing of reedist Paul Dunmall. Don’t underestimate the powerhouse drumming of Tony Levin and the thick harmonic undertow of Paul Rogers’ seven-string upright bass either. Rarely soloing, the two use tropes such as harmonic string strumming or understated cross-handed bounces to add theatrical grace notes here with the skill of featured actors in a character-driven drama. Thus supported, Tippett has the freedom to outline double-timed theme variations and voicing that turns from high-intensity, kinetic cadences to near-rococo patterning, while Dunmall can output elongated, intense cries, flutter-tonguing and honking concurrently.

Climatically the four ascend to a phantasmagoric level of metronomic power chords and quadruple counterpoint, fading to nearly inaudible disassociated string squeaks. No need to go back, the reward of this CD lies is in the journey.

In MusicWorks Issue #97