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CD review: Colin Stetson's New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light 

Constellation; Release date: Available now


For the uninitiated, Colin Stetson's a hard sell. He's not especially linear, there's no backbeat and it's mostly a variety of saxes howling from alto to bass. But Stetson can certainly play. He's currently known for performing with Arcade Fire and Bon Iver. This is his third and final recording of his song cycle trilogy, containing musical elements like drone, ambient, jazz, metal, pop, soul, industrial and even gospel.

Minimalist, with no loops and no overdubs, he possesses a skill set so vast, he overdubs himself live, courtesy of circular breathing techniques. Cut number one "And In Truth" first shocks because of unexpected vocals but, after a few listens, becomes a perfect fit. Third cut "High Above a Gray Green Sea" is haunting with its addition of falsetto vocals. Clocking in at 15 minutes, title track "To See More Light" is a kinetic tour de force. This cut and several others such as "Among the Sef" resemble the soundtrack of Koyaanisqatsi, Philip Glass' minimalist masterpiece. Other cuts possess a pensive, haunting, mournful approach, but it's always emotional when combined with his atonal, free-form, improvisational yet rhythmic approach.

Admittedly his horn at times can sound like a dying cow — or a beached whale — but on the other hand, if the listener drops musical preconceptions, they're in for a rewarding and transcendent experience.

Leave your comfort zone behind and try something fresh and original. Recorded live with no multi-tracking, you'll realize Colin Stetson's a virtuosic force of nature. If you can't see him perform live, this visceral recording is an accurate substitute.

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