Toronto-based trumpeter Lina Allemano can be so understated at times that it takes multiple listens to unwind just what she is doing in both a compositional and a performance sense. And perhaps that is the appeal of this album, a companion her other band’s recent effort Sometimes Y (review). The overlap between the groups only consists of Allemano herself and drummer Nick Fraser. Accompanying them is Rob Clutton on bass and Ryan Driver’s analog synth. Thus, on Squish It!, her Titanium Riot features a degree of non-traditional instrumentation (the synth) for what is ostensibly a modern jazz recording. And let’s be clear that “modern” means, outside, creative jazz, not unlike what is coming out of the corresponding New York, Chicago, and Southern California scenes.
Allemano’s subtlety is in play on Squish It Now, a 10-minute piece with a long, unstructured interlude that waivers on the edge of perception. Similarly, Squish It Nicely delivers an atmospheric, free-improv in a busy, but low-volume manner that eventually builds to a punctuated crescendo. Squish It Forever covers corresponding ground but adds a degree of tension as well. In sharp contrast, the album also features its share of aggressive rhythms with Allemano and Driver not so much providing melodies as textures.
In particular, Allemano’s breathy playing combined with Driver’s unusual synth-work (think non-stop effects rather than discernable patterns) make Squish It! a compelling release. This is a group that has a lot to say but doesn’t have to raise their voices to make a statement. The result is a thoughtful and introspective album – a thinking person’s counterpoint to the demands of a busy world.