STILL SINGLE
Brötzmann/Edwards/Noble - … The Worse The Better LP (OTO roku)

In an apparent concession to the scarcity of umlauts in England, Peter Brötzmann has presented his name in Anglicized fashion (“Broetzmann”) on the cover of this LP, the inaugural release by a label associated with the London venue Café OTO. But that’s the only concession you’ll find on this set. Braving the British damp 401 days shy of his 70th birthday, PB comes out punching on this impressively well-recorded trio outing, and he’s still standing at the end of side two. So are his associates — John Edwards, the UK’s first call improvising bassist, and Steve Noble, a percussionist whose footing is equally secure in Steven O’Malley’s gloom trio Æthenor and the felicitous organ combo Decoy. CVs don’t count for much on a bandstand, especially when Brötzmann’s also standing on it, but Noble and Edwards bring it where it matters most. This record won’t tell you much you don’t already know about Brötzmann; he’s still a force of nature, blowing figures by turns magnificent and grotesque through an armful of reed instruments, and he’s in rip-roaring form here. His partners recognize that your choices when he’s around are at once limited and limitless. You can either blow as hard as he does, disrupt what he’s doing, or be crushed, but you can perform your chosen duty anyway you choose. Initially Edwards opts for pure propulsion, noble for a bit of navigational drag; the former is the screw, the latter the rudder, Brötzmann the icebreaking prow. By the time side two starts, they’re ready to reconnoiter the territory they’ve taken, and the pace slows. Edwards proves he can thwack his big box of wood as forcefully and compellingly as Nobel can his rims and skins, and evoke gothic terror as harrowingly as that old man on the reeds. Where’s an umlaut when you need it? The label wants you to know that the cover image, which appears to be a silkscreen of a woodcut by Brötzmann, is printed on acid-free archival card stock, so the sleeve will probably outlive you. 180 gram virgin vinyl, Dubplates & Mastering pressing, and the music measures up to the deluxe treatment. (http://otoroku.cafeoto.co.uk)
(Bill Meyer)