CD Review - Cosmologic 'Eyes in the Back of My Head'

Friday, February 20, 2009

COSMOLOGIC "Eyes in the Back of My Head" Cuneiform

DOES COSMOLOGIC QUALIFY as an avant-garde jazz ensemble? Not if you regard the genre as a refuge for self-indulgent musicians with a shared taste for cacophony. For all the improvised and willfully discordant music this 10-year old West Coast quartet is capable of producing, and reveling in, Cosmologic produces a sound so rich in mood-shifting maneuvers and sophisticated interplay that it defies labeling.

"Eyes in the Back of My Head," the band's latest offering, is intriguing enough to keep you guessing from start to finish. It opens with "The Rumpus," a track that lives up to its billing by making unnerving use of Jason Robinson's keening tenor saxophone, Michael Dessen's bleating trombone and the kinetic pairing of bassist Scott Walton and drummer Nathan Hubbard. Locked horns and comparatively sleek propulsion help distinguish the album's title track before two of the recording's sharply contrasting highlights surface: "Dreams of an Alternate Future/Remembering the Past," a soulful interlude that initially brings to mind Jonny Greenwood's thrumming film score for "There Will Be Blood," and "Theme for Darfur," a post-bop-ish anthem that swings hard and fast, albeit in its own peculiar fashion.

In the end, the album, composed entirely of original music, says as much about Cosmologic's discipline and cohesiveness as it does about its freewheeling spirit.

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing tonight at the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Silver Spring (301-608-9101, Show starts at 8 p.m.

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