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Exploding Customer - At Your Service

Andrey Henkin, Signal To Noise

The most memorable scene in Monty Python's Meaning of Life has the immense gourmand Mr. Creosote (Terry Jones) waddling into a restaurant and being waited upon by John Cleese. During the course of his meal, Creosote consumes voluminous amounts of food and drink until, after Cleese offers him an after-dinner mint, he explodes.

Sure, we're spending lots of time trying to draw some significance out of this Scandinavian group's name, but there's something there. Exploding Customer – Martin Küchen (alto and tenor), Tomas Hallonsten (trumpet), Benjamin Quigley (bass) and Kjell Nordeson (drums) – are not gluttons but, like Mr. Creosote, the effects of their actions are cumulative.
With a name like that, which leader/composer Küchen dismissed as unimportant in their first album's liner notes, expectations are quickly confounded. This is not a free jazz tear though it may have its moments of bluster and bombast. Instead, Küchen cooks up tunes, all but one under six minutes, with funky urgency and New Thing aesthetic (also included is a piece each by Carla Bley and Hallonsten).
The closest approximation, if one must be made, is an updated take on the Ted Curson/Bill Barron blues-drenched quartet of the mid '60s.

This is the group's third record and is unique in their discography for being their first studio session. The Exploding Customer website states unequivocally that this is a group best savored live, and their previous releases – live sets from Stockholm's Glenn Miller Café and the Tampere Jazz Happening – bear this out. But refreshingly, Küchen's writing style plays out just as well away from an audience, or at least doesn't depend solely on live interaction for its success. The pulsations of Quiqley and Nordeson, the musings of a traditional "rhythm section", actually make them much more prominent than if they indulged in some vicious pillaging. And Küchen and Hallonsten are an honest-to-goodness frontline, with all the textures that come with that. It's an explosion preceded by a deliciously long fuse.