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Hiss is an improvisational quartet made up of one Englishman and three Norwegians with an instrumental line-up that is unremarkable enough, but with a sound that is fairly unique. Keyboardist/electronicist Pat Thomas is a veteran of the British free improv scene while guitarist Ivar Grydeland, bassist Tonny Kluften and percussionist Ingar Zach -- though the latter three are younger -- are mainstays of the Norwegian free jazz and improv cultures. The reasoning behind the Arabic-sounding track titles remains obscure. The music herein has some of the spikiness and general clamor associated with the post-SME scene in England, and leavened with allusions to contemporary electronica and even a tinge of rock-based fills. One might even be able to pick up the slightest influence of the very early Jan Garbarek groups: Grydeland sometimes brings to mind Terje Rypdal at his most extreme. Had the latter (a Norwegian saxophonist) stayed true to the aesthetic displayed in albums like Sart and Afric Pepperbird, it's just possible he might have been creating music like Hiss in 2002! For all their abstractions, the pieces hover in more of a free jazz vein than a non-idiomatic one. Though there are no solos per se; there is very much a sense of four individuals playing with less regard for the overall group sound than with creating a ruckus: a goal they reach often enough to make the album a fairly successful, noisy joyride. Listeners familiar with Company Weeks of the past, or the music produced along the Derek Bailey/Barry Guy/Evan Parker axis over the last several decades, may find nothing terribly groundbreaking here (though the title cut edges into intriguing territory). But overall it's a solid effort; very clearly recorded; that pays its own dividends.