Guillermo Gregorio/Jason Roebke/Brian Labycz: Without Titles [PM16]
This new CD from the Peira label captures a highly satisfying set of improvisations for Guillermo Gregorio’s clarinet, Jason Roebke’s double bass, and Brian Labycz’s modular synthesizer. In keeping with the music’s fully improvised nature, the tracks remain untitled—the absence of titles constituting a kind of literary parallel to the absence of predetermined structures constraining the performances.
Although each of the tracks has its own distinctive qualities, the recording as a whole creates a collective impression rooted in finely-judged textural dynamics and a well-balanced interaction of sound and space. Each piece maintains a discerning proportionality of voice, whereby none of the instruments overshadows the others. This is particularly the case with Labycz’s electronics, the timbres and phrasing of which complement the acoustic instruments without overpowering them. Roebke’s playing, with its mixture of expansive technique and conventional sound production, often acts as a kind of bridge between the electronics and Gregorio’s fluid lines.
The combination of wind, strings and electronics creates a rich collection of overlapping and contrasting sounds: scraping bass intersects with brief burst of electronics, while the clarinet reels out rapid runs throughout its entire range, or guttural stabs and trilling squeals. Labycz’s essays into the low frequency range mesh with the bass, while elsewhere free counterpoint is liable to break out at any moment. At times the acoustic instruments even appear to mimic electronic sounds, as when Gregorio’s clarinet shrills or Roebke plays sul ponticello. As is true of the best-honed group improvisations, the playing here gives evidence of a deep musical empathy.