The Thing Ring The Changes At Rich Mix

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Thing

To prise apart the increasingly converging din of his two main projects, Fire! and The ThingMats Gustafsson has loosened the shackles on the latter group's sound. Gone the groove, more space given over to incendiary Ayler-esque ignitions. A bruising take on avant-garde saxophonist Frank Lowe's 'Decision In Paradise' underlines the fresh approach, with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten swapping double-bass for electric, ensnaring a Mephistophelean cardiac arrest in his strings, while drummer extraordinaire Paal Nilssen-Love delivers on his force-of-nature credentials with a bravura exhibition of dexterous gale-force pugilism (those rim-shots pinging like snapped tendons). Throughout, Gustafsson plays the testosterone-fuelled sax terrorist, gurning his way though a catwalk of faux-macho posturing, marking out his territory with coruscating salvos of atavistic calls and wailing hell-bound hollers. But it's not all muscle-flexing, as the trio tease out a mid-set near-tearjerker, the three musicians meditating on a deliciously emotive refrain. Ah, these hooligans have a heart (but we knew that already, right?).

– Spencer Grady