LP edition of 500. Co-Release with Astral Spirits
A glorious re-match for Chicago’s superb free-rock trio, Mako Sica, and the jazz world’s percussionist of choice, Hamid Drake. Their last collaboration, Ronda (FTR 409) was a glorious, open-ended studio conversation spread across two LPs. Balancing Tear is a mix of studio and live recordings, awash with calmly oceanic passages, interspersed with compressed and feverish form-blurts.
As with Ronda, the heft of the material is dynamically advanced. The album begins with passages worthy of Morricone’s western soundtracks, but the action mutates with rapid surety. There’s a track that will make you think of a micro-dosed Vic Damone singing balled for the Sephardic Justice Society with chunky, obtuse piano accompaniment recalling the work of Chris Abrahams (Necks). There are stretches of proggy soundtracky expansion with muted trumpet and deep bass roiling that make me think of Mark Cunningham’s superb electro-jazz combo, Blood Quartet. There are even shadows of tango that emerge in places like sharks’ fins breaching.
Having played together as much as they have over the intervening years, Hamid’s presence inside the overall gestalt of the sound is a natural fit. Mako Sica’s sound expands without making it seem like there’s a new element grafted to it. It’s just bigger and better. As all freedom should be. -Byron Coley, 2020