Bobby Previte, Jamie Saft, Nels Cline – Music from the Early 21st Century

5 out of 5

Label: RareNoise Records

Produced by: Bobby Previte, Jamie Saft

I’ve been searching for, and have been unsuccessful in finding, any gaps in this release. An (I refuse to believe it) set of improvised cuts of an organ trio setup – Previte on drums, Saft on Hammond organ, Cline on guitar – Music from the Early 21st Century is All Things: fun; rocking; jazz; complex; contemplative. The three musicians’ interplay is too tight to be believed as designed on the fly, and yet, there’s a looseness to them that would be equally hard to achieve if scripted. However, that there feels like defined messaging here, sticking with the album’s title and the way tracks nip from various modern genres, is also defiant of improv, not to mention how the three seem to arrive at peaks together, as opposed to a more classic method of giving everyone a chance to solo.

The recording does err toward heft, with crunchy organ work and some wailing riffage leading the way to Previte’s madcap banging on the skins, but it’s not all out: there are softer moments, particularly “Totes,” appropriately set midway through, and the trio has roots in a jazz sound that encourages tracks like opener Photobomb to start out more exploratory, before followup Paywall kicks things over into more rock territory.

If I’m trying to pick it apart, I could say that those exploratory tendencies wander back in at points, perhaps making aspects of some tracks somewhat indiscernible from others, but as an album, I’d say these moments are absolutely warranted, giving an even stronger sense of structure and weight to when the music picks back up again.

I also went searching for reviews that would train my dumb ears to find flaws, because, surely, this album can’t be as good as I was hearing it to be; bafflingly, though, while reviews cautiously weren’t handing out perfects, the ones I read had nothing bad to say: we’re agreed that Previte, Saft, and Cline are masters of their crafts, and somehow improvised an incredibly cohesive hour+ set of heavy-duty instrumentals, a jazz template liberally smeared with post-rock and rock and even psychedelic washes.