Roscoe Mitchell – The Flow Of Things


Here’s an outstanding example of why Roscoe Mitchell represents such a distinctive & singular plenary of terminal sonic extremity, quite clearly unmatched by any other saxophonist past or present. I am not exactly sure when Roscoe’s pioneering “circular-breathing” specialization emerged, but it seems to have surfaced in the eighties, instigating with an already explicit mastery/quality that presumably was perfected “off-record” before being unleashed. This remarkable four track album seems to be determined to austerely affirm & assert this technique/phenomenon from his inexplicable expiations of receptor shattering overdrive & overwhelming obstreperational onslaught. Think of ten minute tracks in the form of one giant diatribe, dissertation in destabilization with terrific quite literally almost unimaginable intensity in overextended euphoria & efflux that neither abates or relents & somehow manages to expand, in an inexorable periphrast of ant-upping, self-usurping invention that defies belief. The amount of microcosms embedded in the trawl are hard to grasp, the absurd detail, the myriad of techniques glazed on & emanated, detached mid-flow whilst instantaneously actuating another with such munificence & profound plenitude – smouldering, churning, sloshing, gyrating, decorticating, tergiversating, braying & gnashing constantly altering the shape-sound-form-matter whilst accelerating velocity/altitude & somehow amplifying the energy & magnification of molten magnanimity. It’s a constant accent, often from note one, remorselessly edging it’s way up the cognition-shredding zenith on a polyplicity pandemic of astral enormity. Roscoe’s circular- breathing style/tessellated continual-current kind of creates it’s own rules by using intra-variegations & contortions in a singular stream of sound, latching on then spiralling infinite excursion, it’s not like receiving a series of notes/punctuations, it’s a solid stint of oceanic plurality with the details contained within the continual effervescence. Totally fuckin’ crazy basically!!!

I am unaware of anybody else that does this?! Roscoe has also clearly gone so far down this discipline & adapted to this parallel-universe along with it’s conditions & alternative gravitational laws. He is a master sound contortionist. Roscoe seems to have taken the rare novelty of circular breathing & used it as a staple/founding fundamental to predicate the profusion & permutations that follow, completely changing whole sections of the terrain/possibilities.

Mitchell’s incendiary benison is expertly buttressed & complimented by Free-Form maestro Steve McCall on drums, the great Malachi Favors on bass & the hitherto unknown to me Jodie Christian on piano, all making wonderful supporting bodies for the focal frenzy of Roscoe’s concentric conflagration.

Track one, two & four are all intensive, all decks psychotically-vibrant propulsions (all lasting at least ten minutes each). Track three is the only deviation from the furnaces fury, opting for a much slower, pensive proliferation in Avant sound-confection, sonic mosaics & pattern-probing with more obvious responsive interaction between the musicians & unlike the crammed cosms of the surrounding burners, this track has space & a porous form.

WHAT an album in all it’s searing multi-coloured combustion-centric rashness! a huge tear in the fabric of the universe that underscores Roscoe Mitchells unique & unrivalled dynamic of fantastical, terrifyingly unprecedented & really above explanation sound-formations & revolutionary sonic expansionism.

Rekd: 1986

Label: Black Saint