AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Pat Thomas – WAZIFAH Vol. 1 (2023; scatterArchive)

Pat Thomas proves his versatility once again on this release. Admittedly, WAZIFAH Vol. 1 is a departure even for Thomas, who is known for his free improvisation and many collaborations, as well as for reinterpreting the works of Ahmed Abdul-Malik and Anthony Braxton. Here, Thomas employs the IRCAM TimeStretch software to explore sounds, textures, and colors unavailable by way of conventional instrumentation.

As might be expected by the source of the program, WAZIFAH Vol. 1 has much in common with the output of GRM-based composers and experimenters. The leading track, Wazifah 17 combines sawing violin (and possibly cello) samples into a dense and shifting wall. In contrast, Wazifah 1C has the GRM sound, with musical and non-musical samples used to create amalgams of distorted abstraction with quantum-level dynamics. Wazifah 19W positively shimmers over the course of 13 minutes, with a percussive, fast-paced rhythm and rapidly-changing groups of higher-pitched elements. Wazifah 3 seems as if it is formed from manipulated cymbal flourishes, while Wazifah 10Y is an assertive and uptempo layering of sculpted metallic sounds. Toward the end of the album, Thomas tosses us another surprise with Wazifah 10B, which incorporates non-Western stringed and percussion instruments among electroacoustics.

Though Thomas has been active for over 40 years, I am still exploring his extensive discography and am quite impressed by its breadth. WAZIFAH Vol. 1 takes his art to whole new levels and represents a left turn in the oeuvre of a musician already known for eschewing conventionality.