London WC2 12-Bar Club

From [B]Albert Ayler[/B]-esque torrents of atonality, through to the blissful electric-[a]Miles[/a] calm, through space-bound [B]Sun Ra[/B]-isms, through the tortured collapse of [B]The Stooges[/B]'

From the hard-assed streets of Illinois they come, the Chicago Underground Duo, to snatch that most full-blooded, immediate music, free-jazz, from the smart-dressed cafi set and back to us, the kids. Dowdy, baggy, nondescript their clothes may be, but don’t doubt the lightning intent, jaw-shattering drumming or electronically-treated coronet which the Duo (members of Prekop‘s band) deploy to take us on a nosebleed tour of skronk’s less charted waters.

From Albert Ayler-esque torrents of atonality, through to the blissful electric-Miles calm, through space-bound Sun Ra-isms, through the tortured collapse of The Stooges‘1970’, it’s all here, and all horridly beautiful. Here be goatees and berets. Not.

After such a brazen display, the more restrained confections of Sea & The Cake‘s Sam Prekop should seem a monochrome letdown, but Prekop’s subtly-charged, elegantly-carved lounge-jazz compositions have molten hearts beneath their cool-daddio exteriors. Just as Prekop‘s voice so deftly articulates a kind of nonchalant ardour, so the music is all miniature worldquakes and scaled-down breakdowns, an eternity of ennui conveyed in a deliciously twisted chord change or texture shift.

During songs like the opening ‘The Company’ you worry that this could so easily become an exercise in bloodless, exacting muso-hell, but, while the players never stray from note-perfect professionalism, they wrench a touching emotionality from such restrained material like only the long-lost Radar Bros had previously achieved. Trust in Sam Prekop. Here be magic.