Controlled free improvisation of the precise kind, this quartet demonstrates that free music doesn’t have to reach zero point – the lowest form of energy – to foam. Harmonized like a chemical formula, without one element missing, the band is Swiss guitarist Marius Duboule, Canadian bassist Michael Bates, plus Americans, drummer Deric Dickens and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter.
Never exceeding the boiling point on any track, the group improvisations are nudged along by Bates’ paced and responsive thumps and Dickens’ mediated shuffles and nerve beats. From that point, sound actualization usually depends on whether Duboule is accenting his acoustic guitar strings or crunching rough timbres from his electric instrument, as Carter moves with equal facility among flute, clarinet, trumpet or soprano, alto and tenor saxophones. Carter slips from one to another with such discretion that he’ll often be playing another instrument instants before you’ve finally identified the first. Arabesques and flutter tonguing from his flute highlight storytelling beauty on Go for the Gold, with the same skill that his muted trumpet has on Crystal Lattice, as it hovers beside vibrating guitar strums until they harmonize at the perfect moment. Even Duboule’s electric projections on the title track simply contrast with alto saxophone refinement long enough to ensure Carter’s subsequent harmonizing defines the piece as ductile and dense.
The CD’s one drawback is that its longest track is shorter than eight minutes. Fewer tracks and more protracted improvising would allow Zero Point to stretch its imaginative concepts still further.