Bag It!

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All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
The Thing is an avant-jazz power trio whose members include saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Ingebrigt H?ker Flaten, and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. Bag It! is their 12th album. They are one of the most thrilling bands to see live in any genre -- their previous recordings, fine as some of them are, never seemed to get their "Thingness" -- that quality that comes pouring off the stage -- on tape. Until Bag It!, that is. Engineer Steve Albini is a master when it comes to capturing live gig dynamics in a studio. This set was recorded at his Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, and contains every explosive and humorous tenet this trio lets loose in front of a club or festival ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
The Thing is an avant-jazz power trio whose members include saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Ingebrigt HÃ¥ker Flaten, and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. Bag It! is their 12th album. They are one of the most thrilling bands to see live in any genre -- their previous recordings, fine as some of them are, never seemed to get their "Thingness" -- that quality that comes pouring off the stage -- on tape. Until Bag It!, that is. Engineer Steve Albini is a master when it comes to capturing live gig dynamics in a studio. This set was recorded at his Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, and contains every explosive and humorous tenet this trio lets loose in front of a club or festival audience. It must be said that the Thing aren't a "free jazz" group. They capture the energy and anarchy of punk rock as well as the improvisational power and rhythmic invention of vanguard jazz effortlessly; and they mostly play music outside -- far outside - the jazz canon, with a sax trio's instrumentation complemented by killer power electronics -- they even signify whose playing them (Gustafsson, right channel; Flaten, left channel). The title track is the set's signature. At over nine minutes, it begins with a tentative melody by Gustafsson on baritone, followed by Nilssen-Love's cymbals playing in empty space before things begin to move slightly and slowly with bass entering -- first in solo and then in rhythm-section mode -- to a full-on engagement with the trio roughly four-and-a-half minutes in. The repetitive bass pattern, flying syncopation from Nilssen-Love, and then bleating tenor from Gustafsson take the thing to another realm. He begins playing his own pattern as the rhythm section moves itself off in other directions before it all melts down into a quietly expressive free mode. Other tracks, however, such as "Drop the Gun," (a cover of a 54 Nude Honeys tune), bring the punk thang in your face with a killer four-bar intro played triple time, and Merzbow-worthy electronic noise kicking it full bore. The same goes for the reading of the Ex's "Hidegen Fujnak a Szelek" that opens the album. Gustafsson opens the tune alone with distorted saxophone on full vibrato, sounding out a bad acid-trip dirge before the others join him shouting, screaming, and playing this slow, march-of-death by jazz version of the tune."Hot Doug," a group improvisation, sounds quite literally like Merzbow or Maurizio Bianchi is in the band, but the ballad works so beautifully because of its harmonic tension and the dramatic control over all the elements these players have -- the melody never disappears, the rhythm is always taut, no matter how far left it goes at the margin. That control is evident everywhere in a startling cover of Duke Ellington's "Mystery Song," where the arrangement allows for the full-on history of jazz to be displayed. There is a bonus disc in this set as well: a 30-minute group improv called "Beef Brisket (For Ruby's)." (Ruby's BBQ in Austin, TX is a nearly spiritual sanctuary for the trio: they all wear the establishment's T-shirts when they play live.) What is so remarkable about this piece is that it captures every single quality the trio displays to a live audience in a single studio-recorded track. Its extended improvisation showcases the Thing's mastery of control: its full jazz on stun power, its lyric intricacy, and its ability to produce extreme as well as beautiful textures, and with all aspects of the dynamic rainbow displayed. Bag It! is the album punters should gravitate toward first when they consider the Thing's catalog.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/16/2009
  • Label: Smalltown Superjazz
  • UPC: 600116845528
  • Catalog Number: 155

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Hidegen Fujnak a Szelek (5:03)
  2. 2 Drop the Gun (6:08)
  3. 3 Bag It! (9:41)
  4. 4 Snusvisan (4:54)
  5. 5 Hot Doug (8:46)
  6. 6 Mystery Song (4:57)
  7. 7 Angels (7:03)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Beef Brisket (For Ruby's) (30:41)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
The Thing Primary Artist
Mats Gustafsson Indexed Contributor, Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, electronics, Slide Saxophone
Technical Credits
Albert Ayler Composer
Steve Albini Engineer
Duke Ellington Composer
Mats Gustafsson Composer
The Thing Composer
Joakim Haugland Executive Producer
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