Somnambule - Writing About Music

Jim Black/Alasnoaxis ~ Habyor

Jim Black leads Alasnoaxis in an improvisational approach to rock with a focus on melancholic songform (an entirely differently territory from the jazz/rock of Weather Report and Miles Davis). The group’s sound is defined by Chris Speed’s mournful tenor - which is surely dented and tarnished - and Hilmar Jensson’s guitar which is argumentative, forthright and generous with the big fuzzy chords. Both players are driven forward by Skuli Sverrisson’s lugubrious bass and Black’s brilliant, inventive drumming which on Cha even experiments with brokenbeat rhythms. Proceedings travel from pathos-fuelled lament (Be Real) and ragged glory (Rade) to adrenalin-inducing thrash (Hello Kombiant). This album is more stripped down and straightahead than its two predecessors, but continues to be predominantly dark, edgy and brooding, though occasionally shot through with welcome shafts of sunlight. Habyor is a gorgeous, convincing hybrid which becomes ever more enjoyable, the more its melodies and moods become familiar.
Colin Buttimer
June 2004
Published by Jazzwise magazine