KUZU is the hard-charging, free-improvising trio of Chicagoan sax hero Dave Rempis and the duo of guitarist Tashi Dorji and drummer Tyler Damon, toughened throughout intense tours since its inception in 2017. The sonic territory of KUZU encompasses influences ranging from jazz icons like Pharaoh Sanders and Yusef Lateef to Scandinavian black metal bands like Craft and Darkthrone. In such a volatile mix, Rempis channels the spirit of John Coltrane, or a possessed Turkish clarinet player; Dorji adopts the role of a Delta bluesman or a southeast Asian rocker from the 70s; and Damon trades rhythmic patterns with the ghosts of Art Blakey and John Bonham.
«The Glass Delusion» is the fourth album of KUZU, recorded live at Elastic Arts in Chicago and a day after at The Sugar Maple in Milwaukee in October 2018. The latter performance was partially captured on KUZU’s third album, «Purple Dark Opal» (Aerophonic, 2020), (You can read the review from salt peanuts* HERE ), and this tour was also documented in KUZU’s second album, «Lift to Drag» (Medium Sound, 2019). The cover artwork was done by musician-visual artist Robert Beatty. This album reaffirms again how the breadth of the distinct elements in KUZU’s fearless sonic universe converges organically. The free-improvised, high-octane interplay is fast-changing and telepathic. It is also an emotionally deep effort to genuinely join the disparate influences through patient toil, without collapsing under the weight of its aspirations or following familiar strategies.
The first piece, the 30-minute «It Simply Becomes Jammed» develops patiently, first with sparse, quiet gestures of Rempis, Dorji and Damon; then all three intensify methodically the thorny, urgent interplay until they settle on a loose, rolling rhythmic pattern. Damon anchors this dense, ecstatic interplay with his trance-like drumming while Rempis sketches brief melodic and soulful veins and Dorji subverts his efforts by piercing these melodic ideas with sharp and aggressive guitar lines. There are brief moments that KUZU even plays with a West-African cyclical motive, and conclude this piece ends with a ritualist touch as Damon’s bells are echoed by Rempis and Dorji. The second, shorter piece, «Gnash», surprises with its gentle, minimalist atmosphere and the nuanced, conversational interplay of Rempis, Dorji and Damon, stressing the great affinity of these resourceful and highly inventive improvisers.
With no live performances in sight, this is the closest thing you can get to the real deal.
Dave Rempis (as, ts, bs), Tashi Dorji (g), Tyler Damon (dr)