Review: Chris Pitsiokos Unit – Silver Bullet in the Autumn of Your Years (Clean Feed, May 11)

Silver Bullet in the Autumn of Your Years is American saxophonist Chris Pitsiokos’ second record with his Unit, and improves upon the first in virtually every way. It’s an atonal adventure through arrhythmic free improvisation, invigorating broken funk grooves, and astonishing displays of musical rapport. An early highlight is the eclectic “Orelius,” which begins with an inferno of instrumental chaos before retracting into a mesmerizing stew of sax noodling, electronic gurgles, and crunchy guitar spasms that quickly builds into another cacophony. The extended lengths of many of the songs is a welcome change from Before the Heat Death, and give the band more time to flesh out these fluid improvisations. It’s so entertaining to hear the way these tracks progress; it almost sounds like the musicians are trying to outrun each other, forcing their peers to follow along at disorienting, breakneck speed. In other hands this could be disastrous, but it ends up giving the record a whimsical, energetic, and ultimately exhilarating atmosphere. Then there are the moments of structure during the bass and drum jams of “Once Upon a Time Called Now” and the title track, placed just right so that the whole thing doesn’t fall apart. As someone who hasn’t had much luck with new jazz this year, Silver Bullet is the breath of fresh air I desperately needed.

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