Sprawling, cathartic, and adventurous, Instant Opaque Evening, is a tactile and immersive listening experience. The Underflow – the trio of Mats Gustafsson, David Grubbs, and Rob Mazurek – find new ways to mix disparate sounds into intricately woven, free moving pieces. None of these guys need any real introductions, but their combined prowess digs out new ground and so many unexpected zones that I find myself discovering new sides to each musical personality.
The title track and opener builds with Grubbs showing real constraint as he bends notes and lets them glide away into space while Gustafsson and Mazurek emerge slowly from an underground cocoon, throwing jabs and playing off each other like graceful dancers. There’s a dichotomy at play with Grubbs’ guitar work shifting into darker corners as the piece wears on while Gustafsson and Mazurek keep on searching for the light until a wall of screaming electronics pushes everything past the brink. It’s a brilliant 17 minutes.
Even in Instant Opaque Evening’s gentler moments – like the bizarro chamber hues of “Planks” or “A Thin Eternity” – there’s an exorcistic joy that comes blasting through. Grubbs, Gustafsson, and Mazurek partnership is deep and joyous. Throught Instant Opaque Evening are unexpected surprises. “Sound of a Wet Leather Ball” transforms from a free jazz scree into an underground noise banger out of nowhere. It’s like being let into a secret world and when Grubb’s sings, like on the front side of album closer “Cooler Side of the Pillow.” As if everything that came before it was an initiation, now that you’ve arrived inside there’s a new vulnerability revealed. It’s an album that, with each subsequent exploration, shows new sides and ideas within its lengthy spread.