Disappeared Behind the Sun is the third album from Angles 9, following the nonet's previous Clean Feed releases In Our Midst (2013) and Injuries (2014). The good news for aficionados of those earlier albums is that this music is well up to the standards they set. Furthermore, the personnel of Angles 9 remain unchanged for the third album in succession, so the successful team has not been tinkered with and remains as tight and punchy as ever. Like their last Clean Feed album, Disappeared Behind the Sun is issued on vinyl and on CD. Recorded in Stockholm in May 2016, the album's five tracks range in length from "Pacemaker" at five-minutes-forty-seconds to the title track at six-minutes longer than that, the album's running time being a comfortable LP's worth at forty-four minutes.
The biggest difference between this and their past albums is this one's emphasis on music with a particular focus on those experiencing grief because of the disappearance of a loved one due to war, crime or oppression. In his liner notes, saxophonist Andrew Choate poses the question, "Can you make music that is both celebratory and grief-stricken as well as challenging and accessible at the same time?" before providing his own answer, "Yes, it is here." It would not be accurate to describe it as protest music, as it is not aimed at particular political targets in the way that the music of Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra once was anti-apartheid or pro-Sandinista. Instead, as Choate's notes suggest, the music here eloquently conveys the passionate anger and despair of victims of injustice while also celebrating the courage of their instincts to fight back. The tension between such emotions is a powerful driving force. As Choate says, "If we are going to fall apart, we might as well make it a dance."
Given all of that, it is no surprise that much of the music here — all written by Angles 9 leader Martin Küchen, with arrangements by all of Angles 9 — fizzes with energy, propelled along by the rhythm section of piano, vibes, double bass and drums and turbo-charged by the five brass and reeds, trumpet, cornet, trombone, baritone and alto or tenor saxophones, playing ensemble riffs or subtly intertwined solo lines. As was true on Injuries, Matthias Ståhl's vibes are a vital component of the band, able to inject a feeling of lightness to even the densest ensemble passages. The album is not all action-packed excitement, though; in particular, the album's closer, "Love, flee thy house (in Breslau)" creates a melancholy ambience that is entirely in keeping with its title, and features several first-rate solos. Altogether, Disappeared Behind the Sun is a first-rate album that would vie for being the ensemble's best were there not such stiff competition from their other releases. Given time, who knows?
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