AMN Reviews: Lisa Cameron / Damon Smith / Alex Cunningham – Dawn Throws its First Knife (2020; Balance Point Acoustics)

Dawn Throws its First Knife is a compelling slab of creatively and freely improvised music from percussionist Lisa Cameron, bassist Damon Smith, and violinist Alex Cunningham. The album was recorded in January of this year, and will be released on October 30.

Not only does this trio explore textures, tempos, and dynamics, but they also do so with an unusual amount of energy and imagination. Of particular note are the dueling bows, as Smith and Cunningham both saw their respective instruments in a gritty and visceral style. Cameron backs this up with loose and exploratory patterns that are more irrhythmic rattling than rhythmic exposition – and yet it complements her bandmates perfectly. Of particular note is when Smith and Cunningham produce droning structures that are accompanied by Cameron employing extended techniques to do the same on her kit.

The result is a busy, dense, and information-rich outing. A fitting offering of improvised chaos to round out a chaotic year.

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