AMN Reviews: Devin Gray – Devin Gray’s Fashionable Pop Music (2016; Bandcamp)

There is little fashionable or pop-oriented about this latest release (recorded in 2012) from New York drummer Devin Gray. Featuring a dual-guitar attack of Ryan Ferreira and Jonathan Goldberger, as well as the bass of Chris Tordini, Gray leads the quartet through two long tracks of creative improv.

Of particular appeal is how the guitar players provide atmosphere. Often, one is setting forth post-rock styled riffs, while the other plays extended techniques reminiscent of Derek Bailey. In fact, Ferreira and Goldberger extract such a variety of sounds from their instruments that I would not have thought twice if told that keyboards or electronics were used on this album.  Tordini aggressively provides low-end antics. Throughout all of this, Gray’s frantic percussion sets a staggered, angular pace. From time to time, he scratches and rubs the drum heads ala Andrew Drury, while in other points his use of disjointed rhythms is reminiscent of Chris Cutler.

The result is a busy, complex pair of pieces. There enough plenty to dig into on Fashionable Pop Music that multiple listenings are required. The quartet ventures beyond free jazz, laying out unusual tones and textures. And to the extent that guitar is making a comeback in creative music, this release is another testament to that possibility.

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