Group: The Feed-Back LP
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The Feed-Back, by Italy’s Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza (aka the Group), is a wild ride along the seams of free jazz, 20th century avant-garde classical music, psychedelic rock, and emerging funk. While no members of the unit are credited we know that on this recording, the revolving ensemble of composers/studio musicians include Ennio Morricone (trumpet), bassist Walter Branchi, drummer Enzo Restuccia, guitarist Bruno Battisti D’Amario, percussionist Egisto Macchi, percussionist/pianist Mario Bertoncini, and trombonist and violinist John Heineman. (On different recordings, Franco Evangelisti — who penned the liner notes here — and Frederic Rzewski were also in the band). These three extended pieces get pretty outside, but are always circular due to grooving drums and basslines. On the opening title cut, dissonant harmonies on trumpet, violin, reverbed electric guitar, and trombone are brought together by breaking snares and a funky bassline, even as other instruments, such as an angular piano played in the middle-lower register, channel-to-channel psych guitar, and near droning horns dialogue together. This is where Stockhausen and Don Cherry meet Idris Muhammad and Melvin Sparks. “Quasars” is more on the psych rock tip. A tribal, chant-like pulse swirls in the foreground as the violin takes the front line. But the near-Motorik drums and one-note bassline hold the individual elements in tension — think the Velvets in their freer moments. The set’s longest cut, the side-long “Kumâlo,” is the spaciest thing here, developing with incremental piano played on the keys and its strings, and disjointed sounds from myriad instruments and sound effects are layered in, appearing and disappearing. They are moved forward initially by a hypnotic breakbeat. Morricone’s trumpet is played in the high register with a mute before unwinding itself in full tone atop restrained feedback, taut violin, dissonant guitar, and rumbling piano. The drums pick up the tempo in dialogue with the guitar — using a sitar-like effect — and the interplay of the other instruments becomes more frequent and dizzying, all before it turns around on itself and Eastern modalism and Krautrock psych take the center. The disaster quotient for this date was high; there are times when it feels as if the entire proceeding will just collapse in on itself. Instead it spirals out, rippling across genre lines, textures, and dynamics like water. The Feed-Back is a timeless classic, as relevant in the 21st century — it shows younger players how improvisation is done — as it was in 1970 when, if anything, it was ahead of its time.