Black Host - Life in the Sugar Candle Mines (4 stars)

Splendid mix of prog tentacles and free jazz goo

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Black Host - Life in the Sugar Candle Mines

(Northern Spy)

Bursting out of some back-alley Brooklyn laboratory in an explosion of prog tentacles and free jazz goo, Black Host are bizarro world mutant cousins to Little Women. As the sole horn player in a jazz-rock (of sorts) combo, Darius Jones' default mode should be to breathe fire while the rhythm section keep it in their pocket. Instead, he is the most conventionally musical voice here, projecting long arcs of golden tone and definitive statements of skewed melody over drummer and nominal leader Gerald Cleaver's febrile cyborg jive.

'Ayler Children' is not so much an obvious tribute to Fire Music's Holy Ghost (Ayler's nickname) as a breathless scrabble of spring-loaded guitar, capering drums and queasy electronics. The swampy rumble of 'Gromek' is the unlikely foundation for pianist Cooper-Moore's elegant tone colouring, while 'Test Sunday' grafts a tricksy maths puzzle (King Crimson x Naked City) to a Promethean bass grind. Bloody splendid.

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