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Boomkat Product Review:
Traditionally one of the Rune Grammofon label's purest jazz acts, Food are now two men down, reducing their line-up to a duo in the wake of Mats Eilertsen and Arve Henriksen's departure. In the absence of both the band's bassist and its trumpeter, Food seem to have morphed into a more experimental group than before. British saxophonist Iain Ballamy takes the lead for much of the record, laying down lyrical passages of both sax and alto flute that often get transmitted via the finely tuned machines and effects under drummer Thomas Stronen's command. Anyone familiar with Stronen's work as part of Humcrush, or even solo on his Pohlitz album, will already know about his advanced electronic percussion work, but here his array of machines interferes with Ballamy's contributions, layering and filtering his exhalations on opener 'Khymos' before plunging into a tangled drumming exercise on 'Apparatus'. Occasionally, Stronen's fearsome noodlings allow him to come across like a real-time Squarepusher, with Ballamy providing a counterpoint via his sedated, often very melodic phrasing. Appropriate for an album taking such a culinary theme, much of Stronen's experimental, acoustic percussion sounds like someone banging around on pots and pans, although not in some half-hearted, lo-fi way, but rather in a substantially more virtuosic, expertly recorded fashion. This is particularly true of the dismantled kitchen experiments of 'Heston' (presumably a reference to Heston Blumenthal), which find Stronen at the height of his powers, stretching way beyond the confines of any conventional drummer's range of performance, allowing Ballamy to impose structure on the piece via his breathy intonations. Food feel like a very different group since losing two of its founding members, but fans of Stronen's other projects - and more generally, of the Rune Grammofon approach to rewriting the jazz rulebook - will find Molecular Gastronomy a particularly rewarding experience.