Tim Berne s third ECM album, You ve Been Watching Me, sees the saxophonist-composer again leading his ultra-dynamic New York band Snakeoil, but with the quartet now a quintet with the arrival of guitarist Ryan Ferreira, whose sound adds textural allure. The group s 2013 release, Shadow Man, garnered Berne some of the highest praise of his career as a composer and bandleader, with JazzTimes marveling over how his work grows wilder and deeper. The four-star DownBeat review said: This music rocks and thinks, explores, deconstructs and, yes, it swings, in its own identifiably angular, Berne-ian way. Just as Berne has hit a new peak with his writing on You ve Been Watching Me, his band has reached a heightened state of collective interaction, realizing the compositions to a tee. Snakeoil with the leader on alto sax alongside pianist Matt Mitchell, clarinetist Oscar Noriega, percussionist Ches Smith and Ferreira on electric and acoustic guitars can still be bracingly kinetic. But there is new space in these compositions and more lyrical focus to the improvisations, leading to a dramatic, even cinematic experience in such tracks as Embraceable Me. Put simply, Berne s music has never been richer or more arresting.
A woman is slowly stalked to the brink of madness by a man watching her from the opposite tower block. Her attempts to get the police to take her seriously leave her with no option but to track him down herself.