On their debut release, the electric trio Klaxon Gueule blasts out with an unbridled energy that manages to absorb many influences while still sounding fresh and vital. One minute, they bristle with the harmolodic intensity of James Blood Ulmer’s mid-’80s trio, the next they drop down to the quietest whispers of buzzing and hissing electronics, the next they bellow out molten torrents of churning, slashing potency. Drummer Michel F Côté, who has been an integral member in many interesting projects coming out of the Montréal improvisation scene, drives this music with lithe, vigorous rhythms. With a flexible sense of time and astute attention to dynamics, he can nimbly segue the improvisations from caterwauling fusillades to open, chattering freedom. Guitarist Falaise approaches the music with a rock derived intensity, building up deftly controlled, dense textures with shredded power chords, choked feedback, and crackling electronics. He tears off fiery harsh-edged chords to shape cascading phrases, or drops burred textures and crackling sparks of electronics into the free interplay. Bassist Saint-Onge adds a percolating bottom to the mix, adding a linear flow to Falaise’s broader textures.
Over the course of the first CD, the trio blasts through a series of 3 to 5 minute pieces that burst along like barely contained conflagrations. The second CD adds alto player Christopher Cauley for a series of longer pieces. The addition of alto gives the music a clear connection to the harmolodic energy of Ornette Coleman and Prime Time, but the four seem to acknowledge that basis and build from it. Each drives the music in equal parts, with sax, bass, and guitar weaving in and out of Côté’s churning rhythms. Particularly on slower pieces like Quatro II, Cauley’s free-blues keenings give the music a more linear shape than the trio pieces, but even then, the music builds in dynamic waves rather than along thematic structures. Particularly on the second CD, these musicians have managed to combine rock energy, electronic textures, and a finely attuned sense of group interaction into complex improvisations with gripping physicality.