Cosmetic Friction
ForTune 0067(043)

Purportedly named for the Sanskrit concept of universal consciousness, the Warsaw-based Purusha trio works past cosmic music bromides to process a six-track program that’s as efficient as it is beatific. Like canny butchers using varied methods to cut away the excess fat and bone to isolate the juiciest cuts of meat, the sound processors’ applications encompass improvisational latitude in conjunction with intentional atonality related to extended instrumental techniques.

Tracks such as the introductory “Blues in G” or the concluding “Jesus Save my Soul from Me” – as giveaway a title as ever existed – make it appear as if Poland’s mixed atheistic-Catholic tradition has actually produced players who possess a similar sort of devil-and=-angel-like heritage as the ecstatic Jazz of Albert Ayler and Charles Gayle us rooted in Classic Pentecostalism. In those cases like a mirror reflecting inwards, tenor saxophonist Paweł Postaremczak ignites enough incendiary snorts, slurps and spits to gain him pew space alongside those American Free Jazz avatars. Considering the saxophonist’s background playing alongside the likes of clarinetist Wacław Zimpel, only the folkloric influence is missing. Also committed almost fully to the Free Jazz ethos are the trio’s bassist and drummer. While they too are in the band Hera with Zimpel and Postaremczak, rugged atonal inflections, via collaborations with Dave Rempis and Michael Zerang among others, in bassist Wojciech Traczyk’s case; and the likes of Peter Broötzmann and Hamid Drake in drummer Paweł Szpura’s history; appear to have made the greatest impact in their playing.

But like a detective novelist who introduces an unexpected plot twist in the latter part of a tense story, the trio’s unselfconscious individuality is highlighted in the penultimate “Bog Steps Lead to Broken Bones”. An exercise in group minimalism, in one fashion it could fit on a CD by players trained in the traditions of contemporary notated music. Like unaffiliated signals captured from deep space surveillance, timbres are scrapped from the coating of double bass strings, while equally distant cymbal spanks and splashes create a quivery continuum. For his part, Postaremczak’s flattened vibrations shift slowly but expansively as every texture and extension he plays is magnified. Eventually the piece climaxes in a locked explosion of tandem bass bowing and saxophone buzzing.

Weaving a cornucopia of rat-like squeaks and buzzing split tones from the saxophone with dyspeptic string digs from the bassist results in an essay in staccato excitement on the title track; while crammed reed gurgles cozying up to Szpura’s riveted rim shots and shuffles confirms the three are capable of rugged ballad-like interpretations as well.

Perogies, the dumplings that are one of Poland’s most popular foods, are concocted with different ingredients by many cooks. In a similar fashion Purusha has come up with the proper mixture of sonic ingredients to create a uniquely succulent variant of advanced improvised music.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Blues in G 2. Sea Sheep 3. Cosmetic Friction 4. 4. The Ballad of J. and the Mountain 5. Bog Steps Lead to Broken Bones 6. Jesus Save my Soul from Me

Personnel: Paweł Postaremczak (tenor saxophone); Wojciech Traczyk (bass) and Paweł Szpura (drums)