Colin Stetson – All This I Do For Glory (2017)

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Colin Stetson’s All This I Do For Glory is a journey through many styles, formats and experiences. Issued on 52Hz via Kartel Music Group, it is his first solo release since To See More Light in 2013.

The opening title track is a conversation between pulsating beats, rhythms and layer over layer of combinations. The rhythmic essence varies in intensity from multi-textural experiments with the different sounds intertwining to bare, stripped down sections with simple beats and vacuous spaces. Stetson’s sax weaves lengthy and emotive counter rhythms and almost vocal-like riffs and themes across the background. “Like Wolves in the Fold” conjures up visions of disparate, forlorn loneliness with its over-riding, melancholic song from the reeds over the never ceasing, electronic back drop. The rhythms are expanded, contracted and opened up whilst the mesmeric background of the rhythm never ceases. This is an intense track and you can hear those lovely phantom notes for which Colin Stetson is known.

“Between Water and Wind” begins with deep sax and some completely gorgeous stut notes, setting a rhythm and structure which is developed until it reaches a raucous and delightful to and fro between metallic noise and percussion. It is a busy track and requires a lot of listening to decipher every gift it contains. “Spindrift” is atmospheric and spacey with the introduction of a continuum of rhythms after the first third. In this interlude in the intensity of All This I Do For Glory, the sax soars up and up, the reeds taking the sound up and across many chasms of sound which are linked by echoes and interspersed eclectic noises.

“In The Clinches” is fast, rapidly delivered percussive sounds over which the sax journeys, hardly pausing for breath and is very much a slice of delicious expertly delivered noises with a subtle change in beat just before the end. There are groans, sighs and a sense of emotive intensity which weaves through this track and the percussive element responds as it competes with the melodic tones. “The Lure of Mine” is more than 13 minutes of changing and developing sounds – from the light, intense introduction to searching development in the first part to a rich, percussive centre tailed by the end part in which all sounds merge and entwine, creating a pictorial image of enmeshed sounds. This is a great track, long but exceedingly engaging.

What is striking about All This I Do For Glory is how Colin Stetson uses the rhythmic qualities and melodic abilities of the saxophones. Because you hear the clicks and crunches of the keys as a percussive entity, along with vocals and groans forced from the instrument, the sense of the saxophone both as a melodic and percussive instrument is heightened. It is truly an exploration of the ability and limitations of the instruments. In part, this gives the listener a sense of entering into the mind of someone who sees far beyond an instrument’s limitations in terms of octaves, rapidly delivered frenetic arpeggio lines and notes – but sees it as a way of seeking ever more developed sounds and tones. A tough call for someone who has experimented with sounds for a long time, it is difficult for Stetson to find more in the sense of intensity, new sounds and a variation on what has gone before but he does in many parts of All This I Do For Glory.

Stetson captures all that on a recording which has no overdubbing or tweaking; it’s the essence is stripped down, bare knuckle playing, backed with a modernistic approach and creative placement of the mic to create and capture the sounds he wants with his instrument. It is a strong collaboration between historical references in playing style combines with the existence of modern technology to enhance and at times detracting, relentless pushing and intensity, forcing breath to maintain the sound. At times, there is a sense of wanting to hear more normality from the sax, because the ability is profound but there is also a sense of Stetson seeking to give a particular emphasis, something in his mind which he is trying to deliver.

Colin Stetson recorded, engineered and mixed All This I Do For Glory, so it is a personal and intense delivery of his profound playing techniques, the breath control, the rhythmic pulses and the vigor remains undiminished. The joy of music like this is that is combines eras, styles and is firmly also modern and with a different slant which can engage across the board. All This I Do For Glory is also one which, like any good album, gives more with each listen.

Sammy Stein

Sammy Stein

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Sammy Stein
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