THE THING – Bag It! BBC review

Jul.07, 2009

There is a shitload of reviews coming in on the Bag It! CD ( the LP is on its way, by the way… soon… 2 x lp… alternative cover, extra tracks… )

sorry about posting reviews and shit, when I should just post new vinyl trades and other important matters…

but here it is:

BBC Review
The band’s strongest recording yet.
Louis Pattison 2009-06-29
The Thing are jazz, but not as you know it. Formed over a decade ago
by Scandinavian players Mats Gustafsson, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten and
Paal Nilssen-Love to interpret the songs of trumpeter Don Cherry, the
outfit has outgrown such humble aims to become something bigger… and
heavier. Across approaching a dozen releases, the influence of some of
free jazz’s most fiery performers – the likes of Peter Brotzmann and
Albert Ayler – have intermingled with a grounding in rock ‘n’ roll,
resulting in covers of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, White Stripes and
Lightning Bolt and a headbang-friendly dynamic that appeals outside
jazz circles.
For new album, Bag It!, The Thing have chosen an unlikely sort of foil
– veteran engineer Steve Albini, who has in the past made his distaste
for jazz quite clear. Actually, though, the pairing of The Thing’s
visceral playing and Albini’s raw analogue production style has
resulted in what might be the band’s strongest recording yet. Hidgen
Fujnaka A Szelek, a cover of Dutch anarcho-punk outfit The Ex, is a
raging opening, Gustafsson’s wailing, melancholic sax opening cutting
the ribbon on a blazing three-way interplay of grinding fuzz bass and
dashed drums, jagged bursts of skronk baritone sax and off-microphone
shouts. The following Drop The Gun, a cover of Japanese punk band 54
Nude Honeys, meanwhile, commences with racing riffs and spry drums,
but gradually picks up mass, Gustafsson setting down saxophone and
slaking the rhythm section with broiling electronics.
Following this double-barrelled opening salvo, The Thing relax a
little with the title track, a ten-minute piece that commences with an
extended segment of free play from Nilssen-Love before sax and bass
join the fray. The second half of Bag It! hits more traditional jazz
buttons, throwing in an energetic cover of Duke Ellington’s Mystery
Song – while a closing take of Albert Ayler’s Angels finally softens
the tone, a wistful melody from Gustafsson that fades to a rattle of
percussion and a quiet buzz of static.