Available as a download only, Bad Luck’s Bloodroot is a fine example of the extremely powerful and virtuosic, cutting-edge music coming out of Seattle these days. Sure, drummer Chris Icasiano and saxophonist Neil Welch make an unholy racket for much of the track’s generous twenty-plus minutes duration, yet a determined sense of focus is quite palpable: this is freely improvised music with a strong sense of direction.
Welch possesses a raw, cavernous, unforgiving tenor sound that brings both Peter Brötzmann and David S. Ware to mind. He uses various electronic effects quite judiciously, sounding at various times like a subway train coming to an unexpected halt, amplified computer innards, or an angelic choir announcing the beginning of the apocalypse. His bass clarinet can also be heard lurking subliminally beneath the layers of effects and thundering drums.
Icasiano is similarly resourceful, using a variety of mallets, sticks, and other implements to create subtly shifting backdrops—sometimes grooving, sometimes stumbling, sometimes hanging suspended above Welch’s agitated tenor.
Bloodroot is intense stuff indeed, but somehow it’s also not difficult listening. A fast twenty minutes worth of raw spontaneity.