The Antripodean Collective: Funcall

Australian quartet The Antripodean Collective returns with a new collection of improvisations, specifically an hour-long set laid down on March 23, 2008 with no overdubbing or editing applied once the five pieces were recorded. Funcall follows the earlier 2008 release The Massacre of the Egos with a few personnel modifications—violinist John Rodgers, trumpeter Scott Tinkler, and drummer Ken Edie return, with Marc Hannaford inheriting the pianist's role from Paul Grabowsky and double bassist Philip Rex MIA—but the approach is much the same: free-spirited and unrestrained “spontaneous compositions” with all four collectively charting an always-challenging experimental path that obviously comes as naturally to the gentlemen as breathing.

If there's one word to describe their playing, it's uncompromising. There are no concessions made to those who might like a little Wynton-styled swing in their music-making. In fact, the quartet's playing is so almost perversely devoid of traditional jazz rhythmning that when Hannaford flirts with a bluesy run four minutes into the seventeen-minute “Block” the moment is almost jarring. Embracing a “take no prisoners” ethos, these fearless four favour intricate and sometimes dissonant interplay in solo, duo, trio, and quartet configurations. The aptly-titled “Dribble” lurches and stutters for a fractured seven minutes before the first of two epics, “Tagbody,” leaves port for its twenty-minute sail. But speaking of individual tracks as distinct entities makes little sense when the five pieces seem more like a continual hour-long conversation that's been needlessly indexed into five units. Throughout the collection, front-liners Tinkler and Rodgers are the brash standouts, naturally, but Hannaford and Edie are more than capable of matching their every thrust and parry. Listeners weaned on traditional “heads” and round-robin soloing should probably look elsewhere but those with an appetite for slowly unfolding, stop-start group interplay of largely amelodic design may find the set to their liking.

December 2008