Ames Room - City Halls, Glasgow, Sat 29 Jun 2013
The constructivist free jazz quartet deliver a thrilling set as part of Glasgow Jazz Festival 2013
An Ames room is built to look cuboid when it is in fact trapezoidal. It's an apt metaphor for this Franco-Australian trio's relationship to free jazz. The Ames Room arrange their parts in what at first seems quite a regular fashion, with the rhythm section constructing a space for Jean Luc Guionnet's alto sax to dart about in. Take a closer look, however, and the band's weird dimensions become apparent.
Resolutely unswinging, Will Guthrie's drums eschew the multi-directional ecstasy of free jazz for a skewed rock attack that recalls the pounding drums-as-lead-instrument approach of Robbie Yeats, of New Zealand avant-rock legends The Dead C. He unleashes tight barrages of machine-gun snare cracks and thrash-metal bass kicks without ever settling into a groove. Bassist Clayton Thomas refuses to lock in with him in any conventional sense, delivering two-note staccato statements and percussive four-string slaps with a single-minded purpose. Guionnet's horn forms taut, declarative phrases which he repeats to breaking point. A particular highlight is his use of circular breathing to create a delay effect, looping siren calls into a dizzying whorl. Ping-ponging between the hemispheres of the brain, The Ames Room's constructivist free jazz is an offbeat thrill.