AMN Reviews: Geometrie Variabili – The Breath

Geometrie Variabili: The Breath [LBN021]

It’s always a pleasure to encounter improvisation grounded in an innate sense of developing structure. This excellent new set of improvisations by the Italian quartet Geometrie Variabili—made up of Adriano Orru (double bass); Silvia Corda (piano and melodica), Elia Casu (electric guitar); and Antonio Pinna (drums, zither and melodica)–certainly qualifies and is indeed a pleasure to listen to.

Geometrie Variabili crafts meticulously realized ensemble pieces that often sound composed both in their overall trajectories and in their melodic and harmonic details. The music of Steve Lacy was one of the inspirations for the recording; it can be heard in the title track, named for one of the elements of Lacy’s Tao Suite, and in their slow, asymmetrical take on the Thelonious Monk composition Ask Me Now, as well as in the loose-limbed swing of Stakeout. A perhaps slyly oblique allusion to the Monk-Lacy nexus may be found in the title of There’s No Evidence, a track drawing on a more overtly avant range of sounds and techniques beginning with a fleet, rapid duet of double bass and guitar, followed by Orru’s characteristically eloquent pizzicato soliloquy. An intervention of scraped metal percussion and Corda’s inside-the-piano playing leads the piece to a gradual crescendo. Breaking Crust also explores edgier sonic territory, with struck bass strings, guitar glissandi, and Pinna’s solid pulse moving the music back and forth over imaginary barlines. The group’s fundamentally melodic instincts are captured in Coastline, with its movement in half-steps framing ghost tones and spiccato bowing on the bass and a fine duet for Corda and Casu. The Long Gleam brings the set to a close with a slowly evolving meditation on and around a single tone.