ICP Orchestra - Groupcomposing (1971), 7/10


A free improvisation international supergroup featuring the furious and eccentric Bennink, violent Br√∂tzmann and quirky Evan Parker come together and create a spectacular recording combining sonic qualities of projects from all members. The Warhol parody cover is a nice touch and a great one for collection, with matching offbeat choices like the inclusion of bagpipes from Bennink and insane yet wonky rhythm changes. It is certainly among the more chaotic and atonal free jazz recordings, yet it has a surprising comprehensiveness in its scope of sound. Perhaps due to an assembling of such stylistically varied musicians, the group can range from delicate and withheld to massive, deranged and disharmonic. The easiest comparison would be to Br√∂tzmann’s Machine Gun, but this would be a simplistic comparison as the only true characteristic they share is an aesthetic of European free jazz and a broad, immense sound. Groupcomposing, while less focused and literal in its themes, is more obviously heterogeneous and complex than prior entries from any member of the group. The first half of the record is perhaps more explicitly chaotic than the second which uses space for a larger portion of its runtime, but both have sections of unconventionally tumultuous arrangement and uninhibited freedom in performance. It is so technically focused and ultimately a raw manifestation berserk improvisation, so whether it strikes your fancy fully depends on your affinity for pandemonium. Still, Groupcomposing is one of the most singular and ambitious recordings of free jazz with undertones of classical you can find. For that reason, it is among the greatest and one of my personal favorites.