AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Filippo Abrate / Thomas Canna – Kumbu-tse [MUPE]

Kumbu-tse, by the Turinese percussionist Filippo Abrate and Rimini percussionist/modular synthesist Thomas Canna, takes its name from a peak in the Himalayan mountains lying on the border of China and Nepal. And in a sense, Kumbu-tse the album represents Abrate and Rimini’s way to create the musical analogue of a place of elevation, in this case of spiritual elevation. They do so with what in effect is a suite of eight naturally sequential parts.

From the first track, a clangorous call to order with gongs playing against synthesizer drones mimicking tamboura and Tibetan throat singing, percussion dominates. But this isn’t a noisy album. Abrate and Canna play thoughtfully and with restraint when called for, often setting out free-floating pulses with sticks and brushes on drum kit. On the sixth track, by contrast, they tap out regular rhythms on semi-tuned metal surfaces for a gamelan-like effect. Four of the eight tracks include guest tenor saxophonist Paolo Porta, who plays with a refined, elegant sound. The percussion-and-saxophone pieces here unfold with a measured and almost serene melodicism, and even when the playing heats up, as it does on the seventh track, there still is an underlying sense of formal proportion. As there is for the album as a whole. It ends on a quiet note—just the right denouement for the narrative arc the music has traced.

Daniel Barbiero