Reviews - TEST TEST (AUM012)

THE MET (Dallas, TX)
Year In Music - The real landmarks this year are the albums that fell through the cracks of mainstream jazz, most notably an underground NYC quartet that ran away from everybody. Top Jazz Albums of 1999 - #1. TEST (AUM Fidelity) The blast that ripped through the ears nationwide. TEST erupted with this CD, Live/Test (Eremite), and a self-titled release on Ecstatic Peace during this year alone. And though each has its own charms, the AUM Fidelity release is the most out of this world. It's a remarkable discovery to hear a combo sound so confident and display such a sophisticated level of a group dynamic on its debut recording. Required listening. -Bret McCabe

TOP RELEASES OF 1999 : JAZZ Magazine (France)

Grade: A - This is one of the best albums of the year.
Hearing this volatile New York quartet rip and roar, a listener might be reminded of the old gospel song that warns of "the fire the next time." Test rises to the apocalyptic occasion on its debut disc. This hour-long perfrmance is thrillingly explosive, yet also defies the truism that free jazz is a lot of unstructured noise.
Almost criminally unknown and underrated, multi-reedists Daniel Carter and Sabir Mateen could be urban legends on leave from a Thomas Pynchon subplot. Such colorful fantasy shatters, though, when they begin to act as twin lightning rods, surging with sometimes convulsive bursts of raw energy. In the tradition of 1960s jazz giant Eric Dolphy, Carter and Mateen also have a keen sense of lyrical and harmonic balance. It's what allows their contrasting lines to flow with the organic logic of a spiraling double helix. Bassist Matt Heyner and drummer Tom Bruno sustain the flexible pulse that underwites the concepts's inherent risks. And any group that dares both a flute duet ("Alen's Flight Preparation") and a boisterous call-and-response sermon ("What R U Going to Due?") is taking risks. Test pulls it off: This is one of the best albums of the year. -Steve Dollar

COPPER PRESS Issue Two, Autumn 1999
Pure creation flowing through the lungs, lips and fingers of four erudite masters of their passion. An energy vibrates so strongly on this record, one cannot help but feel charged. TEST explode from the outset, with the sprawling , dense and spiraling evolution of "huhuhuH," that features the circumvolving spirit of Daniel Carter on tenor sax , Sabir Mateen moving from alto sax to flute, clarinet, tenor and back to alto, and the incredibly dynamic playing of bassist Matt Heyner and drummer Tom Bruno. At 21'50, this piece would be more than enough spontaneous creativity for most players, but the quartet was far from through. "Straightahead, forward motion" opens oddly enough, with some herky-jerky interplay from Mateen and Carter before the pair begin their beautiful paths, each different but significantly interwtined. What sets TEST apart from, and above-if you ask some people-other creative improvising troupes is how they play together nearly all the time, rather than persons bowing out or laying low while a member takes a solo. Lyrical and beyond lyrical, TEST, speak to the listener in ways one may address and ways in which one simly understands as being too deep for response. TEST, in their furious and passionate forays into the depest recesses of their being, have created a fluid form through everbending shapes, lines and rhythm. - Steve Brydges

There are no announced "leaders" here; rather, Test is a continuous four-way conversation. Test break sonic boundaries--not only the restrictions that define "beauty", but those that define "free jazz" as well, which can be just as limiting a tag. Sabir Mateen creates a vortex of klezmer-like clarinet trills amid and above Tom Bruno's authoritative drums and Matthew Heyner's subtly throbbing bass on "Bustin' Outta De Chamber." The revelatory opening cut "huhuhuH (nite sounds on 5th)," though, is the key here, providing a beautiful (and at 22 minutes, comprehensive) introduction to the group's mode and modus. Daniel Carter lectures on the uses of the tenor, while Mateen cycles through his full range of available instrumentation (alto, tenor, flute and clarinet) in five mini-solos that cohere into a shimmering whole. Aum Fidelity hasn't picked a loser yet. This is merely the label's latest brilliant release, and ears, souls and minds everywhere should open wide to receive. -Phil Freeman

Begs to be reckoned with; simply amazing! Along with Other Dimensions in Music (also on Aum Fidelity), Test are the most authentic of the late-'90s free-jazz groups. Their music sounds like an organic process (that is, a learning experience) as opposed to a reactionary statement meant to confound. The easy comparison would be to say this album evokes the classic sounds of '60s ESP-Disk, but maybe it's time we start saying it sounds like classic Aum Fidelity. -Joe S. Harrington

TEST makes a wildly organic kind of free jazz improvisatory glory. Almost bursting at the seams with rapturous energy and invention; there really doesn't seem to be any lead instruments as such, everything gets to wail and be as expressive as it would like to. They can be delicate and understated as on the flutes, bass and drums piece "Alen's Flight Preparation", or maintain a cinematic cohesion of atmosphere that dissolves into delirious chaos only to gather itself again, changing shape in the process. Truly beautiful music and amazing interplay. - George Parsons