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Bursts of noisy delirium
with melodious decorum

blink. - The Epidemic of Ideas

(Thirsty Ear)
4 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Oct. 6, 2008

Review by Brad Walseth

Like a nightmare, from which you wake with a delicious shudder, the music on blink.'s debut release, The Epidemic of Ideas puts you on edge, but ultimately satisfies the inner human need for danger and cathartic release. Centered by bassist Jeff Greene (who also composed the songs), blink. is propelled by Quin Kirchner's percussive force on the drums, given electricity by Dave Miller's John Zorn-ish effected guitar, and taken airborne by the beauty and bravery of Greg Ward's alto sax. Alternating segments of shorter lengths with longer compositions, bursts of noisy delirium with melodious decorum, composed structures with free form interjections, Greene and company have produced a noise-art recording that is alien but never alienates.

Aggressive attacks like the 2:28 "Secret Weapon: Part I" segue into a 9:14 "Rivers and Tides," which climbs relentlessly into rocky terrain. "Sources" proves that even noise can be made beautiful, while "Displacement" is unsettling fun. Meanwhile, the killer "Secret Weapon: Part 2" is only 1:29, but shows that the gray area between jazz and rock still has plenty of life in it. I only wish they has expanded more on this heart-pounding track.

"Glass" again presents an uneasy sonic landscape with Miller's wonderful choice of intervals (not unlike a buzzing swarm of angry insects) wreaking havoc on Ward's attempts at order over a bubbling stew of Kirchner's tribal drums and Greene's off-kilter bass. Brilliant and unbalanced, this is a nightmare you don't ever want to end, until the songs trails off like plumes of smoke.

The thrills and spills continue on tracks like the delightful "I Am," with haunting, chiming guitar, plenty of clever drum fills and a repetitive bass part in a time signature I was never quite able to identify. Next up, "Underground Games" keeps the listener completely off balance for 3:02 of helter-skelter rhythmic adventures.

The lovely vignette, "Three Illustrations" leads the way into the closing tour de force that starts with "Misadventures" - which begins with the band almost playing straight-ahead modern jazz. Nor does it stay the course either, metamorphosing into an intense free form rave up that seems designed to wake the listener out of his or her somnambulant every day existence. This powerful piece is followed by the album closer, "We Disappear," a slower-paced, crystalline number highlighted by Ward's clarion call saxophone and Miller's "blues-in-the-cosmos" guitar, which features the band at its most gloriously melodic. If this is indeed an epidemic, one can only hope that it spreads.

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