Cagematch – Missing The End All (2014)

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Last year we met Kate Olson, one half of the Seattle-based trombone/sax electro-acoustic duo Syrinx Effect. Now meet Kate Olson of the Washington, D.C.-based sax/guitar/drums outer-region jazz trio Cagematch.

As opposed the highly textural, atmospheric Syrinx Effect, Cagematch is visceral, moodier and ultimately, more unpredictable. Rounded out by Gary Prince on electric guitar/effects and Tim Cohen on drums/percussion, this little combo applies a rock poise and an electrified sonic din to avant-jazz structures. Yesterday, Cagematch officially issued its first release, Missing The End All, available via a limited run of 50 CDs packaged in those 1980s-era 5.25″ floppy disk shells with unique hand-stenciled lettering (and, of course, an unlimited run of digital downloads).

All over Missing The End All, Olson’s soprano sax is strikingly pliant, dancing over the staccato movement of Prince’s notes of the title song, and as his guitar turns ornery, her straightened sax bares its teeth, too. The “Orb Weaver, Pt 1” begins with a threatening stance and assisted by on-the-fly effects, resembles the impending fury of a gathering storm; “Part 2” is the calm after release, followed by another tension buildup.

“Childhood’s Proof of Being Wanted,” with its echoing, repeating figures, most resembles Syrinx Effect, including its warm, embracing ambience. “Phonological Loop” is as the title implies, looping Olson’s sax, but judiciously so. The bluesy feel of Prince’s guitar alongside that seems out of place at first, but after a while becomes downright instinctive as a foil to Olson.

Diametrically opposed to these performances is the fully-free noise rock of “Beneath The Pony,” paced by the clamoring drums of Cohen, and supplemented by skittering atonal notes and the looped pulsing of Prince’s guitar. Olson applies electronics of her to add volume to her sax, but Prince is the one who leads the band headlong into the abyss. Yes, I’m loving this.

The entire seven-song set was made up on the spot, but with the exception of “Pony” and parts of the “Orb Weaver” suite, it’s hard to tell that the three were walking on the high wire without a net, the flow is so smooth and natural. Like Olson’s other project, Cagematch is artful, original and full of surprises. Being on the other coast with different players and a different mission hadn’t made this band any less appealing.

Grab one of those floppy disk-encased CDs or a digital copy from Bandcamp.

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