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Last Supper

Last Supper
(Rune Grammofon)

Even though I'm not a diehard fan of everything that they've released, I'd have to say that Rune Grammofon is easily one of the more intriguing labels releasing music right now. With a unique musical vision that is consistent, challenging, and constantly pushing boundaries (in the past year they've released everything from the dark ambient of Deathprod to the brutal jazz of Scorch Trio), they've set themselves apart most labels out there. Even though they've released such a wide variety of music, they've also done so with a refined taste that pretty much allows the casual listener (or ardent fan) to know they're going to get something that's at the very least quality when they get something from the label.

The fourth release from the group, Last Supper (which hopefully isn't a sign of their impending demise) continues along the more electronic route that the group started to really explore on their last release Veggie. Depending on your musical tastes, you'll find much to pick out and enjoy here. If you're a fan of beautiful melodic work, the saxophone playing of Iain Ballamy again mixes with the trumpet playing of Arve Henriksen in a way that is at times completely blissful while the rhythmic section of Mats Eilertsen and Thomas Strønen (who just released the excellent Humcrush with Supersilent keyboardist Ståle Storløkken) keep things pinned down.

The first half of the album is actually quite sparse, as "Exeter Opening" starts the release with spare percussion and soft saxophone before a beautiful wash of electronics glides into the mix and the interplay between Henriksen and Ballamy really take things to another level. "Christcookies" keeps things simmering low with filtered pianos and saxophone over deep electronic thuds and other glints of noise while the pace quickens ever-so-slightly with the slinky rhythm section and semi-seducto horns of "Quinoa."

On "Junkfood," though, the group really finally lets loose and the result is something like you might expect to hear from Squarepusher if he worked with a couple or horn players. Even though it clocks in at under 2 minutes, the hyper track rumbles and spits and you can hear everything from horn blasts to impassioned yells to cartoon sound effects. From there, the album again moves around a bit, as "Daddycation" takes a more subdued route while "Exeter Ending" opens with a harsh tonal wash before dropping into another dirty jazz ditty with plenty of skronk. The album-titled closer of "Last Supper" finds the group in particularly dark territory, mixing lonely saxophone with sharp percussive attacks, lots of electronics, and some falsetto vocals by Henriksen that are quite pretty yet sound rather sad and lost amongst the haunting instrumentation. At times brilliant and at other times somewhat noodly, Last Supper is another interesting release from the young quartet of avant-jazzists.

Rating: 7.5