AMN Reviews: Chacon / Nakatani / Santistevan – Inhale/Exhale (2022; Other Minds Records)

Electric guitarist Raven Chacon, percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, and bassist Carlos Santistevan, all from New Mexico, recorded this album in the San Miguel Chapel during COVID lockdown. Presented as two long pieces, aptly titled Inhale and Exhale, the album is a dense, slow-moving foray into textural free improvisation.

Inhale, while not at all smooth, exhibits a constant flow. Santistevan is felt as much as heard with deep tones and wandering snippets of melody that vibrate in an almost hypnogogic fashion. Chacon contributes shifting walls of sound with heavily-distorted chording and drones, as well as manipulated feedback. Nakatani, who is the most well-known of the three, contributes his signature patternless constructs by rubbing and scraping cymbals and other objects.

Exhale is slightly more conventional, with Nakatani producing the occasional rhythm, though any repetitions are short-lived. Chacon supplies speed picking in addition to twisted noise and effects. Santistevan is more overtly present, with powerful yet open-ended playing.

Despite their distinct individual contributions, the album can also be enjoyed as an amalgam of sound – an amorphous mass of jagged forms.

Constructed in 1610, the San Miguel Chapel is the oldest church in the United States. The long history represented by this building is juxtaposed with the markedly modern approach of this trio. Regardless of locale, Chacon, Nakatani, and Santistevan have produced an organic and moving set that should be high on the list for anyone who appreciates unfettered musical spontaneity.

Inhale/Exhale comes out on August 5 from Other Minds Records.

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