Sunday, January 10, 2010
Albert AYLER Trio- Spiritual Unity 1964
It takes some serious effort to crack Spiritual Unity. It wasn't until my sixth or seventh listen that I felt like I was even scratching the surface, and getting something in return for patience and attention (by the way, you'll need plenty of both for this record), but it was worth it. At first, it all sounds absurdly unhinged and cacophonous, like none of the musicians are even playing the same song. But the first time you slip into the record's flow, and hear how Peacock and Murray attune themselves to Ayler's every move, follow his slightest whim without ever missing a beat, it's a thing of beauty. To reach this level of accord, this trancelike plane of being, they essentially ceased functioning as a band, and became a single, self-sustaining unit. If there is one standout element of this unit, though, it's definitely Ayler's sax. I've never heard the instrument played the way it is here, harsh and wild, struggling to move onto a new note before the current one is even finished. The sax takes a lot of flak for making so many easy-listening appearances these days, but Ayler perverts it, turning it into something fearsome. The scariest part is that it's by far the most accessible sound at play, and ends up acting as a life preserver during your early forays into the waters of Spiritual Unity. The bass and drums are so far removed from conventional rhythm that they provide no handholds, and when the sax sinks below the surface, you sink with it. You'll quickly learn that struggling is of no use, that looking for a steady beat or structure of any kind only drags you down further. You need to let go, let it wash over you, absorb all the strange new views it allows you, and eventually you'll reemerge with a better understanding of it all. Like the rest of Spiritual Unity, it's a slightly terrifying experience, but also an immensely beautiful one.
Albert Ayler- (Tenor Sax);
Gary Peacock- (Bass);
Sunny Murray- (Drums).
A1. Ghosts [First Variation] 5:15
A2. The Wizard 7:23
B1. Spirits 6:49
B2. Ghosts [Second Variation] 9:58