Essential New Music: Kuzu’s “All Your Ghosts In One Corner”

All Your Ghosts In One Corner … and Kuzu in the other? Since this record was recorded on tour in the middle of March 2020, it’s fair to suppose that Dave Rempis, Tashi Dorji and Tyler Damon might have felt like they facing down some supernatural foe. At gig after gig, they played the last show before the venue had to close due to the implementation of lockdown restrictions.

But if they felt cowed by the stares of haints, it doesn’t show in their playing. It’s more reflective than the music on their first four albums, sure, but that might also be a matter of evolution. Across All Your Ghosts In One Corner, which bookends a set recorded in Chicago with two excerpts from a gig that the sax/guitar/drums trio did the next night in Milwaukee, their method is the same as ever: total improvisation, played at rock-band voltage. And there are moments on this album when they erect the same massive wall of sound that they did during their first encounter.

But for these musicians, improvisation means exploration, so there are also passages where Dorji leaves plenty of space between his torn metal chords and barbed-wire harmonics, and Damon delivers coloration and momentum, not sheer strength. Rempis takes his time building to stun-gun force, evidencing restraint and thoughtful instant composition. Never mind what looms, it’s the ghosts we should pity.

—Bill Meyer