AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Wally Shoup, Greg Kelley, Tom Scully, Casey Adams – None of This Is Implausible (2023; Obscure & Terrible)

There are two hidden “members” of this quartet, making the group more like a sextet in practice. First, there is the room or space in which None of This Is Implausible was recorded. It provides resonances, echoes, and reverberations that add to and modify the character of the music. Second, producer Dustin Williams manipulated the sounds appearing here. Where the one leaves off and the other begins is hard to tell and ultimately does not matter.

The group proper consists of four experienced improvisers: Wally Shoup on sax, Greg Kelley on trumpet, Tom Scully on guitar, and Casey Adams on percussion. Shoup is perhaps the most well-known of these, active for nearly five decades and having recorded and performed with Thurston Moore, Reuben Radding, and Chris Corsano among many others. The other members also have extensive discographies and credits.

Given all of that, what you have here is prime-grade free improv. Holding nothing back, this quartet extracts raw and discordant noises from their instruments, whether playing traditionally or employing extended techniques. Very much having a live-in-the-studio sound (with the aforementioned contributions of the room as a substrate), Shoup, Kelley, Scully, and Adams go all out. Not to say that this means every minute of these four mid-length tracks is densely packed (some are), but that they manage to fill empty spaces with noise whether chaotic or controlled.

Shoup and Adams are ever-present, the former with echoing lines that vary from jagged and uptempo to smoother and more contemplative, and the latter more subtle with brushwork when not contributing to the freer moments. Kelly and Scully operate in roles that are complementary to Shoup, whether producing short blasts of notes or contrapuntal lines.

An example of the group’s breadth can be found by comparing the opening track Not Really Not Now Anymore, an aggressive and open-ended offering with a metal-on-metal feel, to the self-titled third track, a much longer and slower textural improvisation.

Recorded in early 2020 (right before COVID hit, I believe), None of This Is Implausible pre-guessed the direction that would be taken over the next 3+ years…notably the rise of the “pandemic album” of lo-fi live recordings. Regardless, we have four seasoned players combining their efforts into boiling masses of sound that is both harsh and strangely joyous. Two thumbs are way up on this one.

None of This Is Implausible will be released on April 17 by the Seattle-based label Obscure & Terrible.