Clarinet Panic Deluxx (Toronto) – The Warehouse, April 22

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This is a jazz inflected group, with abrupt, unexpected rhythms. Electric guitar, cello, drums, alto sax – it could say just about anything, and it’s always threatening to. Wisps of classical cello braid though the puffy sax, cuts of silk. This is very textural music, with motifs and patterns that zigzag nearly out of control, pulled together again like drapes to a curtain pole. Very elegant.

The music gets more intricate and frenetic. Distressing trance patterns develop. It veers towards heavy, edgy rock, then the guitar goes solo, ending the song mysteriously, in the strange new morning of a jaw harp collective.

You could call it cut and paste, but this is different from Zorn’s. It’s not about shock, it’s about veins, jocular veins. Humor will segue into pathos, with a lugubrious cello tone, into jarring dance rhythms. Small sections of music develop with each instrument, going in different directions, then coming together like a city intersection.

You imagine Toronto on Lake Ontario, international city, proliferating in frontier zones. The music proliferates, pulling electric currents into the wilderness.

With the last two numbers, the musicians build to a grand finale, like fireworks, grand romantic tones. “Detroit,” the final number, starts like math rock, but with cool jazz inflections. It’s a night in last century New York, but is it the ’40s or the ‘ 90s? A different place altogether, as the artists, with their Canadian sense of spectacle, create something out of nothing, light out of dark.

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