Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Thumbscrew—Convallaria (Cuneiform, 2016)

The second Thumbscrew album goes further out than their debut. The trio of Mary Halvorson (guitar), Michael Formanek (double bass) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums) sound like they’re challenging each other, striving to push beyond their comfort zone. This is a much more adventurous record that’ll take several listens to fully appreciate. Passages where they lock in and rock out happen infrequently; however, Halvorson still cranks up the distortion and warp-effect pedal regularly. Her playing gets ever more dextrous and articulate, from the bit-crushed terror sonics of “Screaming Piha,” to the heavy-riffed mid-section of “The Cardinal and the Weathervane,” to the elegant virtuosity of the title track. Convallaria emphasizes what a perfect match this trio are for each other. They operate at a level most groups can only dream of.