What an incredible ensemble. Altoist François Carrier is a tornado of concepts, ideas and interjections that refuses to cease, providing galvanizing directionality to the music. Drummer Michel Lambert provides textural structures and contrapuntal formations that expand skyward while building laterally. Living legend pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach is a maestro and a master, who injects the music with adrenaline shots into every orifice, while weaving improvisational narratives one can almost tangibly see. Bassist John Edwards cannot help constantly being at the right place, at the right time, armed with thunderbolts of his own.
What makes Unwalled flourish as a descriptor of this music, is that everybody seems to consider themselves a percussionist. Halfway through the title track, Edwards challenges the listener to guess whether he or Lambert are hitting things, with an incredible display of tuneful string-slapping that multiplies in density. Later on, Schlippenbach seems to predict Lambert’s lines before they’re played, while simultaneously opening and closing the door for Carrier to provide a rebuttal. The never-ending means Carrier finds to manipulate note duration is probably the most infectiously danceable aspect of this album. Who’s making the warbly glitch-in-the-matrix sounds on Open End feels as relevant as how they’re being made. The functional roles society assigns to specific instruments may be insurmountable parameters for most, but this marvellous group refuses to acknowledge their existence.