The critical success of Air's debut album, Air Song, dictated both more of the same and a difference in approach on Air Raid. While there are only four tracks, just as on the first album, here they are broken up between two long pieces -- the title track and "Release," and two mid-length, seven-plus minute works, "Midnight Sun" and "Through a Keyhole Darkly." The concept of group improvisation was the same, but Henry Threadgill's compositional notions began to come through in his solos. He's a born leader and his charge-taking feels natural and wonderfully amorphous, though it reveals itself more often than not. The structure of soloing on "Release" is breathtaking in that it makes a case for the notion of an interval in free improvisation. Threadgill's use of the breath as a rhythmic technique here brings out the most adventurous side of Steve McCall's drumming. Likewise, his engagement with thematic variants creates new and wildly textured terrains for Fred Hopkins to articulate a vision of the bass as an instrument for song as well as rhythm, and one where depth and resonance offer a palette for group searching. Another fine effort. AMG.