Oneida drummer Kid Millions and Borbetomagus saxophonist Jim Sauter have collaborated on the album Fountain, which has been out since September on the Family Vineyard label. (Get it from Amazon.) It’s an interesting creative proposition, mostly because Borbetomagus—a trio featuring himself, saxophonist Don Dietrich, and guitarist Donald Miller—has been Sauter’s primary creative outlet for over 30 years at this point. So hearing him work with a drummer is a highly novel experience. But beyond the novelty of its existence, it’s one of the more ass-kicking records of the year.
Of course, it’s not like they’re duetting, or like Millions is setting up a groove over which Sauter spins out Arnett Cobb-style blues choruses. The drumming is a rock-informed version of free jazz, with a somewhat Elvin Jones-ish power, particularly on the toms. Sauter, meanwhile, is working with his usual array of pedals and distortion boxes, which basically render his saxophone almost entirely unrecognizable as such. Much of the time, it sounds like an electric guitar playing through a wall of amps the size of a three-story building. Even at quieter moments, like the end of “Clairaudience,” the sounds he’s producing are more like feedback than notes. It’s a really intense, overwhelming performance, which makes it almost a small mercy that the album is only 32 minutes long.
Stream “Vertical Sprint”: