Cortex – Jazzwise

This debut from a young Norwegian quartet bursts into action with a braying, Ayler-esque tenor fanfare —an opening salvo that signals an aesthetic kinship with iconic mid-1960s New Thing recordings. Sure enough, it’s easy to hear echoes of Don Cherry’s high cornet whinnies in Thomas Johansson’s trumpet, and tracks like ‘Endorphin’ perfectly capture that declamatory, martial feel that Ayler et al brought to early free jazz.

Yet, there’s another urge at work here: the need to find a groove. Gard Nilssen —the powerhouse drummer behind jazz-rock trio, Bushman’s Revenge —shoves these tunes along with absolutely thunderous drums that can’t help slotting in with bassist Ola Hoyer’s chunky hooks, creating a bullish, exuberant and deceptively accessible energy music. ‘Decibel’ settles down into a plodding doom riff that picks up where Bushman Revenge’s Black Sabbath cover versions leave off, and ‘Hub’ is a headlong, polyrhythmic rush with a ‘Caravan’-ish head. You want a genre labels Call it avant garde party music.

Daniel Spicer