AMN Reviews: Jessica Pavone, Lukas Koenig, and Matt Mottel – Spam Likely (2022; 577 Records)

Titled after an all too common and annoying message that appears on our phones these days, Spam Likely is the debut from Jessica Pavone (viola, electronics), Lukas Koenig (drums) and Matt Mottel (keytar, 3-string guitar). This trio had put on their first live performance in 2019 and probably had this effort delayed from what has ensued since. Nonetheless, the album is more than worth the wait given its rather singular take on free and structured improvisation.

The two long tracks of Spam Likely – around 20 minutes each – are constructed from short repeating themes and motifs that constantly evolve and change. In addition to each musician providing snippets of solos, they all contribute to off-kilter and oddly-timed rhythmic underpinnings that give the album a trance-like feel. These are repetitive in a similar fashion as In C, yet not quite as formal. Spam Likely presents idea after idea without giving any one the time to wear out its welcome, frequently employing open-ended techniques to this end.

Koenig’s percussion is a clattering, rattling mass, setting the cadence with a heavy emphasis on cymbals. Mottel lays down guitar riffs as well as thick chords from the keytar, breaking into the aforementioned short solos from time to time. Pavone is also comfortable in both lead and backing roles, contributing to the rhythms as well as jumping out with scratchy viola improvisations. And for those of you familiar with Pavone’s solo and group lead efforts…clear your mind because her work here is quite different.

Indeed, the word “unique” is perhaps overused when describing creative music, but it certainly fits in this case. Spam Likely stands out among thousands of albums in that overarching category with a fresh sound and approach. The album can be used as busy and energetic background music or for purposes of deeper listening. There is plenty to deconstruct here, but one does not need to do so in order to enjoy this offering.

Spam Likely will be out on September 16 from 577 Records, and comes highly recommended.

AMN Reviews: Tom Flaherty – Mixed Messages [New Focus Recordings fcr 326]

The title of composer Tom Flaherty’s monograph recording Mixed Messages can be read as referring not only to the title track for violin, piano, and electronics, but more generally to the work of electroacoustic composition, which mixes the messaging of two different ways of creating sound. As it happens Flaherty, who directs the Pomona College Electronic Studio, mixes the messaging of acoustic instruments and electronics with a well-honed sense of complementarity. The works presented on this album represent a style of composition in which the electronics are an often subtle, and always natural, presence within the overall sound, serving to augment or emphasize harmonies and textures.

This comes out clearly on the album’s centerpiece, the three-movement Recess (2017) for string quartet, performed here with the optional electronics part included. The piece is grounded in the accumulation and repetition of brief motifs, which in the first movement form the foundation over which intertwined single lines drift downward, and in the third movement provide a pulsing, compressed rhythmic energy. The second movement features thick harmonies set out in long tones moving in and out of greater and lesser dissonances. On this movement in particular the electronics play a role in regulating the density and resonance of the sound’s overall texture, while maintaining the movement’s harmonic transformations as its center of musical gravity.

The mixed messages of the title track, from 2014, arise from its harmonic undecidability. At its center is a four-note chord that, depending on how it’s presented, could be major or minor, or consonant or dissonant. Acoustic piano and violin are accompanied by samples of violin and piano, which fruitfully complicate an already complicated harmonic knot.

Other highlights include 2020’s Release for violin, cello, and electronics, which integrates electronics-enhanced rhythms with timbral contrasts based on different string techniques, and Threnody (2003) for cello and electronics, which sets up a real-time, stimulus-and-response duet between live processing and a semi-improvised cello part.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews: India Gailey – to you through [Redshift Records TK511]

For this, her second solo album, Nova Scotia cellist India Gailey (b. 1992) put together a program of six works from a multigenerational selection of living composers—five by others, and one by herself.

The oldest composer represented is Philip Glass (b. 1937), with his 2013 Orbit for solo cello. This challenging piece, with its steady, perpetual motion rhythms and measured harmonic movement carried along on single lines and multiple-stopped chords, very clearly shows itself to be a lineal descendant of the Bach suites for solo cello. Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti’s (b. 1983) ko’u inoa, from 2017, is another piece for cello by itself; it is a pulsating, arpeggiated work with a Lydian flavor. Two of the compositions feature Gailey’s voice as well as her cello. On her own Ghost (2020) her vocal part carries a melody over undulating chords pivoting on open strings, while on diepenveen (2020), a work written for Gailey by Yaz Lancaster (b. 1996), the cellist sings a text by the composer over a slow drift of sharp dissonances and arpeggiated harmonics. Fjóla Evans’ (b. 1987) Augun (2013) is an electroacoustic piece consisting of electronically superimposed, interlocking motifs. The highlight of the album is Light Is Calling by Bang on a Can’s Michael Gordon (b. 1956), a moving work written in 2004 in response to the 9/11 attacks. The harmonic foundation of the piece consists of a reversed electronic pulse, over which an elegiac, upper-register melody soars.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews: Gabriel Zucker and Attila Gyárfás – Cities and Deserts (2022; Hunnia Records)

Cities and Deserts came together initially in New York City as a set of short songs. These were merged into a longer suite in the New Mexico desert and then recorded in Budapest. Thus the title. The pieces were composed by composer / bandleader Gabriel Zucker. He also plays piano and keyboards, while Attila Gyárfás handles the drums.

Zucker is a unique talent that we have been watching for several years, from 2018’s Weighting to 2021’s album-of-the-year quality Leftover Beats From The Edges Of Time. He merges classical chops and orchestration with outside jazz and touches of free improv seemingly with ease, energy, and direction.

Cities and Deserts leans on Zucker and Gyárfás to fill out its sound, and that they do. The classical and jazz influences are clearly present, but it’s being an album of art songs adds a lateral dimension. Zucker varies between spoken word and plaintive singing, providing folk / Americana overtones. Gyárfás is a busy drummer, heavy on the cymbal-work, and equally comfortable with patterned and patternless percussion.

All of this results in an effort that is offbeat, avant-garde, and technical, while still pulling at the emotions. It is surprisingly hard to put Cities and Deserts in the same category as the piano / drum duets from Cecil Taylor and Oxley, Bennink, Sommer, etc., or those of Fujii / Yoshida, or von Schlippenbach / Johansson. Zucker and Gyárfás certainly can be lumped in with these pioneers, but this album is a different animal and, in many ways, so much more.

Two thumbs up and highly recommended.

AMN Reviews: Apocryphos – Phantoms Received (2022; Cryo Chamber)

At surface level, this is a dark ambient release, though its instrumentation is largely processed guitar, martial percussion, and background sounds. This manifests as smooth, slow-moving drones with multiple layers shifting about one another. But starting with the second track, Uråldrig Sorg, the percussion kicks in. While its patterns are not unduly complicated, these beats are perfectly suited to add a moody sense of doom to the recordings. In other words, the elements used are familiar enough, but the combination thereof works remarkably well.

Case in point, the title track employs pounding rhythms with guitar loops and effects, as well as scratching textures (likely generated by rubbing the lower-frequency strings). This amalgam induces an almost trance-like state, though with enough baleful variance to be the stuff of nightmare rather than daydream. Child of the Charnel House continues this trend, while Where We’ve Bled and Anchored wraps things up with drones and crackling effects.

Phantoms Received is a slow grower. After listening to it in the background for several days, I became increasingly intrigued and settled down for more attentive sessions. During these periods, the album’s well-crafted details became apparent – as well as how they merge to form driving, cinematic soundscapes.

Apocryphos is Robert C. Kozletsky. This is his fourth album under that name, and probably the best one yet. Phantoms Received will be out on July 26, from Cryo Chamber.

AMN Reviews: Ra’maat Ubadah Hotep Ankh McConner Iheru 0 The African OmniDevelopment Space Complex We/New [Arteidolia Press, 2022]

The African OmniDevelopment Space Complex/We New is the brief—66 pages long—but engaging memoir of Ronald Ubadah McConner, aka Ra’maat Ubadah Hotep Ankh McConner Iheru (1939-2020), a bassist, creative music advocate, and community catalyst who ran a music and cultural center out of his home in Pontiac, Michigan for several decades.

In the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s Pontiac, and the Detroit area more generally, was a hotbed of jazz, being home to many fine players such as the Jones brothers—one of whose nieces McConner married. McConner writes about being exposed to the music as a child through the records his mother played at home, and by his teens he and his twin brother Rashid began building extensive jazz libraries of their own. For McConner, jazz was something that was always there, through high school, through four years in the Air Force, and through thirty years working for General Motors, experiences he recalls with a genuine affection. Moving back to Pontiac after his four years working at the Hunter Air Force Base Hospital in Savannah, McConner continued to nurture his love of the music by attending performances at area clubs—The Minor Key, the Drome Showbar Lounge, The Spot Bar, LaRoach’s Tea, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge—to hear visiting artists as well as players from the vibrant local community. Eventually, he became an active participant as well as an enthusiastic listener.

McConner was attracted to the double bass early on, and finally acquired one in autumn, 1969. With his brother Rashid on trombone and Ahmad Jihad Malik Shabazz on drums, he formed a trio called The Fireworks Art Ensemble; they played an appropriately incendiary music McConner describes as being “based on sound, strength, feeling, and lengths of time.” The trio got together at Ahmed’s African Import Shop and played small clubs, restaurants, colleges, community centers, and even street corners, basements, and playgrounds. McConner got together with many other local musicians as well to play improvised music that “would really go ‘OUT’…we just played as hard as we could, as long and as loud as we could and let the spirit take over.” The spiritual dimension of the music rather than any technical concerns was what really mattered for him—to play “exclusively what it is you feel in the moment, something never even conceived, something raw, guttural and utterly spiritual.” McConner fostered this vision of a spiritually-based improvisation by encouraging others to explore it. In the early 1970s, he began hosting Friday night sessions for music, conversation, and fellowship at his home, which he called the African Omnidevelopment Space Complex/We New. Many musicians passed through it over the years; it was an important community institution that endured into the early years of the new millennium.

“Community” is the key here, but in no narrow sense. From the point of view of the larger jazz industry it would be easy enough to characterize McConner and his Friday evenings as “just” a local phenomenon that fell outside of the broader music marketplace. But in his afterword to the book, alto saxophonist patrick brennan, a participant in McConner’s Friday night sessions from 1972-1975, makes the important point that such a characterization would only miss the point. Music, and its role in the life of an individual and a community, is a more complex, and vital, thing that validates itself and is validated by the effect it has on those who encounter it and above all, on those who are affected by it and live it in a deeply meaningful way. McConner certainly did live it, and encouraged others to live it as well, and did it all in a broadly welcoming spirit. In fact what comes across most vividly in this memoir is not only McConner’s obvious passion for music, but his profound generosity of spirit. That the two can be, and even should be, intimately connected is the greater message of the book.

http://www.arteidolia.com/the-african-omnidevelopment-space-complex-we-new-by-ubadah-mcconner/

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews: Sergio Fedele – Le Melancholie di Tifeo [Setola di Maiale SM4400]

Sergio Fedele’s Le Melancholie di Tifeo is a unique work for an equally unique instrument. Taking its inspiration from the mythical figure of Typhon, the gigantic, monstrous, and half-human offspring of Earth and Tartarus, Fedele’s six part suite is an exploration of the sonic range made possible by the Ecatorf, a triple-belled hybrid instrument of his own invention. Fedele describes the Ecatorf as a slide reed contrabass instrument; it combines a trombone slide and tubing and valves from brass instruments with a soprano clarinet mouthpiece. Like Typhon, whom Hesiod described as emitting sounds only the gods could understand, the Ecatorf, with its unorthodox range and timbres, intensified by Fedele’s focused use of a variety of extended techniques, creates sounds seemingly beyond ordinary comprehension.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews: BLAST – Vortographs (2021; ReR Megacorp)

Blast has been around for over 30 years in various forms – quartet, octet, and now a duo consisting of founding members Frank Crijns and Dirk Bruinsma. In addition to guitar, Crijns handles MIDI programming while Bruinsma plays saxes and vibes, and also contributes MIDI and percussion programming. If your first reaction is to turn up your nose at the notion of parts of this album being synthetically generated, I respectfully ask you to give it a try anyway because you are likely to be pleasantly surprised.

Blast represents a European style of RIO in which you can hear shades of Henry Cow and echoes of Zappa, as well as modern classical and free-jazz influences. Despite being pared down, Crijns and Bruinsma offer up a dense sound, with their signature lines of labyrinthine complexity, start-stop rhythms, and harsh staccato passages. With the programmatic assist on bass and percussion, this iteration of Blast resembles a quartet in sound. The four tracks that make up the album appear to be heavily composed but with a few improvisational breaks.

On my first few listens I did not even realize that half of the music was programmed. So if you are looking for something resembling Stringy Rugs or their earlier groundbreaking releases, Vortographs follows along the same philosophy but has a character of its own.

The album came out last year on ReR, and admittedly I totally missed it until the band members brought the release to my attention. But in the spirit of “better late than never”, Vortographs gets two thumbs up.

AMN Reviews: Ned Bouhalassa – Gratte-cité (2008; empreintes DIGITALes)

It’s been a while since I’ve contributed to my on again/off again examination of the wonderful empreintes DIGITALes label.  I’m going to dig deep into their catalog and talk about this stellar release from 2008.  Ned Bouhalassa’s Gratte-cité is one of those releases that evokes, not only a long passage of time but also a vast soundscape, creating an unparalleled cinéma pour l’oreille.  This sense of “the epic” is familiar to me because there are other releases on empreintes DIGITALES that deliver in the same way.  I’m thinking specifically of the Gilles Gobeil/René Lussier release Le contrat (my thoughts here) and Arturo Parra’s Parr(A)cousmatique which I’ve also written about.  It’s this boundless, infinitely expansive journey through environments both physical and metaphysical, rooted in both real time and a temporal otherworld that elevates Gratte-cité to such a compelling listen.

Full disclosure:  When I first heard this, I was less than enamored…and I know why.  The beats.

Full disclosure (addendum):  Now…when I listen, I’m completely enamored…and I know why.  The beats.

Bouhalassa has done something that I’m sure has been done before but…not in such a seamless, organic way.  He married both live and electronic drum n’ bass elements to the Acousmatic world.  And this marriage wins the “Power Couple” award usurping Brad and Angelina!

I’ll return to the beats in a bit but a little about Bouhalassa first.  It appears that he has his feet in two worlds, not only working in the Acousmatic space but also creating music for film, television, and video.  I’ve looked around and it seems his Acousmatic work is limited to this release and 1998’s Aérosol (also on empreintes DIGITALes).  A quick search on YouTube reveals several short videos ranging from synth demos to short films and documentaries in which he created the soundtrack.  Much of this newer music has a retro “synthwave” vibe to it, a vibe that also pokes its head out on Gratte-cité and not in a small way.  (BTW, since I mentioned “synthwave”, the fact that there is even an element of it on this release really adds to its appeal when it’s mixed into the final mélange.)

Unfortunately, I can’t link you to any of the works on this album in their entirety but, like all empreintes DIGITALes releases, you can sample a healthy segment of each piece on their dedicated webpage.   But, to really experience this album…a single listen straight through is the way to go.  It’s long, about 76 minutes but, most good journeys are.

Gratte-cité (Cityscraper) can be looked at as the Acousmatic world’s version of a David Lean movie…it’s that big!  Bouhalassa says:

In preparing the sonic materials for these pieces, I selected, like a DJ, what I liked out of my large collection of recordings, though in my case, these are recordings of city soundscapes. I then imagined a fantasy, where a gigantic vinyl record’s grooves are replaced by the jagged outline of skyscrapers, and I, a giant, drop an impossibly-large needle and begin to ‘play’ the city.

The first piece, “The Lighthouse” kicks things off in an ominous fashion.  Horse hooves on cobblestone streets, old-timey music, faint human presence, and movement of sound to and fro from within the headspace all mingle with an unsettling drone.  It all comes together to form a darkened city street, a place in the old world perhaps.  The movement, the sound gestures all point claustrophobically inward…until they don’t!  Enter the electronic beats…and enter they do in a grand, chest-thumping peacock strut that made me smile.

I remember on my first listen to this album not too long ago I didn’t smile.  I was so taken aback by this overt display of “techno dance music” that so rudely interrupted my perfect symbiosis of loudspeaker/brain-infused dreaming I may have audibly uttered, “What is this shit”.  But, as my full disclosure above intimates…I now have arrived at the realization of how bloody brilliant this move was.  These rhythm blasts, both electronic and human-made (courtesy of Christian Olsen) are surgically dropped in at strategic places for what seems like the sole purpose to disrupt.

Disrupt?  Yes, but disrupt what.  Surely the answer to that will have as many different responses as there are listeners.  One thing for sure though, these events create drama…and drama in Acousmatic music is or should be a prime goal.

The beats, which I now consider so important to this album are scattered across its entirety.  They appear, they disrupt, they vanish…never wearing out their welcome, and they are beautiful!

The centerpiece of this album is the 34 minute “Urban Cuts”, a crazy patchwork of places, times, visions, and emotions.  This is the piece that best demonstrates what he means by “playing the city”.

Bouhalassa “plays” three cities, Montreal, Las Vegas, and Berlin.  The piece has no natural separation between places, but the listener can determine the change of locale by the natural, organic vibe change from what preceded it.  Montreal and Berlin both display their urban plumage, moving from frenetic to serene, dark to light in a blink of an eye.  It’s the Las Vegas middle section though that is the most compelling for me.

Bouhalassa achieves an extremely accurate sonic representation of the mystical solitude of desert life in stark contrast to the hedonistic frenzy of a casino.  That being said, it’s possible for the listener to be transported to any number of places depending on…the listener.  In the middle of this lengthy segment, the poet Fortner Anderson infuses the soundscape with lines from his poem, Vegas.  His delivery is cold, with a sense of pathos, tension, and dread…doing an excellent job augmenting the already vivid pictures in this sonic epic.

This piece, as in all the others has the beats as well as a “just under the surface” bed of long tone, shifting, electronic, and futuristic synthwave layers.  The addition of well-placed cello (by Delphine Measroch) is a nice touch as well.  If Vangelis didn’t do such a great job with the soundtrack to Blade Runner, “Urban Cuts” would be a very able substitute.

The 16-minute “mOrpheus” also begins in a very 80’s synthwave fashion but eventually dissolves into a lonely, deserted sound world with some sparse, sustained Piano chords.  The ear traveler is then ported over to a robotic, Kraftwerk-ish place for further examinations by whatever manner of nefarious beings who created this cold, sterile place.  Outside there is panic and chaos but here, in this place…there is nothing but the warm, secure feeling of skin against the stainless-steel table on which you lie on.  This piece has less of the organic natural world, with the synthetic sucking up all the atmosphere.  Of course, your mileage will vary based on your own David Lean epic.

Unlike “mOrpheus”, “Impulse”, at 14 minutes begins with, what I consider…classic Acousmatic sound.  This would fit well in the Dhomont, Ferreyra, or Denis Dufour zone.  Sounds moving through space leaving the mind just enough time to get a fix on them before they are gone.  More beats of the drum n’ bass variety eventually do kick in but don’t last long…giving way to all sorts of non-rhythmic, synthetic as well as organic atmospheres.  With this in mind, “Impulse” may be the most evocative piece on the album, leaving the mind free to spin whatever image(s) it can generate.

The final piece, “Songe errant” is the shortest, at just under 6 minutes.  Beats and synths cavort in a synthetic playground until night falls and the natural sound of “the world” takes over, and all is well.

The empreintes DIGITALes label has an extremely deep roster of great releases and I hope to be a bit more consistent in my coverage moving forward.  Bouhalassa’s Gratte-cité is a very worthy addition to a long lineage of unique, adventurous sound explorers and comes VERY highly recommended.  I should mention that you can grab a high-rez download off the electrocd site.  It was this format that I based this write-up on.  Additionally, the physical product is available as a DVD Audio with advanced resolution and 5.1 surround sound.  I have this and, do I even need to say how incredible it sounds?  This is a great release from the label’s back catalog!

Mike Eisenberg
Meisenberg1@hotmail.com
Twitter: @bigaudio999

AMN Reviews: Dave Kerman/5uu’s – The Quiet In Your Bones (2022; Cuneiform Records)

It has arisen…like the great city called Nineveh rising from the ashes amidst the hot desert sands…like an Assyrian robed spectre returning to wreak wholesale destruction on our weak, soft, milk-fed modern world…like the supreme god-king Ashurbanipal awakening from his ancient slumber to bring about the final days…the new 5uu’s album, The Quiet in Your Bones has arrived!

Twenty years doth passed since Abandonship (Well, to be technical…eighteen years since the wonderfully Acousmatic sound slice of Tel Aviv Construction Events which, at least for me acts as a good and proper signpost to where we are now with The Quiet in Your Bones.) and now, the creative music world has been given an embarrassment of riches that would make Marcus Licinius Crassus soil his toga. Its scope is vast, its creativity is unbounded and it fucking howls like the baying of a Dire Wolf in heat…yes, it howls!  Indeed…Kerman has delivered!  Mr. Cow and the Swiss Family Bears would be proud of their favorite son.

The Quiet in Your Bones deserves a track-by-track examination (which I will not do justice to but will comment briefly on each piece) but first, some general observations.  This album shares many qualities of a home recording.  I beseech you to not let that fact put you off or taint your views before listening to it.  It’s this very “home-made” feel that allows it to build-out its unique sound environ.  The sound of everyday found objects interacting with carbon-based lifeforms are plentiful and act like building blocks for the greater whole.

Additionally, imagine a gossamer veil of dust, a Planck-length layer that even the slightest intake/outtake of breath would cause irreparable damage to its very structure.  The entire recording is inundated with it.  I think it’s this quality (some may call it an imperfection…they would be misguided) that gives The Quiet in Your Bones its very essence.

Finally, the album has an endless parade of mysterious and, for the most part unidentifiable “found sounds”.  Whether some of these concrète events are further tweaked and/or processed is beside the point.  The mystery of these sounds is the key, the ear candy that unlocks the gates to his sound world.  How sporting of Dave to throw these in.

The songs… let’s run them down:

  1. “Sign Maker”-Like all the works on this album, this low-key little number demands close, attentive listening.  Here we are greeted by the outstanding vocals of Michele Fuchs.  Dagmar Krause + Carla Bozulich = Michele Fuchs.  Doesn’t that seem like a tantalizing alchemy?  Wonderful (and wonderfully complex) melody that goes on seemingly forever before resolving.  A simply lovely miniature…like the Royal Doulton on my mother’s dresser.
  2. “Quills and All”-Epic grandeur.  An Avant-Prog/Greek mythological tragedy with playing that echoes the 5uu’s from two decades ago.  The fire is their folks! This has Fuchs playing the role of a Diamanda Galás-like sky/storm goddess screaming down her wrath on all creation.  Pummeling, pulverizing, and incredibly powerful.  At 13 minutes, if you aren’t left tongue-tied and crucified after this then you are already dead.
  3. “King In A Coma”-A song about a royal Nepalese familicide incident. This short piece is propelled along by a frenetic, punkish energy overlayed with the Nepalese national anthem. Eventually dissolving into a hazy morass of crunchy things, the veil is punctuated with the disturbing sounds of automatic rifle fire.  The ending forces the listener into a first-person view of a rather disturbing scenario.  No spoilers.
  4. “Sociopath Song”-If you are feeling lost in a twisted funhouse whilst being stalked by an evil clown with rictus grin and dislocated limb, don’t feel bad…I feel that way too.  A deep dive will reveal more Acousmatic treats for the discerning ear.
  5. “Routine”-The second (of three) extended-length sound novellas.  This one, like “Quills and All” will most certainly please the Avant-Prog fans and will provide much succor for their Henry Cow fetish.  While Kerman handles most of the sounds and instruments on this album (the Zeuhl-ed out bass line and galvanic drums on this cut are quite special), take note of the Organ solo by Dave Willey (one of several notable guests on this album) because it fairly wails. A centerpiece, and rightly so.
  6. “Immured Again (Naturally)”-This instrumental number doesn’t as much plod but drags itself around like a wounded snail leaving its essence behind on the hot dirty pavement.  The well-endowed bottomed bass is the prime mover and on top of that, I can hear certain math-rock moments within the spikey melodies.  Yeah, I can see this as the soundtrack to being cemented alive within a wall and I’m quite sure Gilbert O’Sullivan would not approve…not approve at all.  Tsk Tsk Tsk!
  7. “That Saved A Wretch Like Me”-Another instrumental, this one being a sonic mural of death by drowning of Witches in Switzerland circa (I assume) 15th Century.  All the 5uu’s puzzle pieces are on display, from complex, rehearsal-intensive arrangements to the quirky, off-kilter general vibe of unexpectedness…all gently covered in antique, dusty haze (as the whole album is).
  8. “War Elephants In The Room”-Here we have a short, 3-minute indictment of Hannibal’s mistreated Elephants as metaphor for our modern society’s disillusionment with our so-called leaders.  I see this piece as more of an interlude to what comes next but, in and of itself is another excellent RIO-infused corker.
  9. “Occams Razor”-This third large-scale colossus clocks in at 12 minutes and is the penultimate exclamation mark on a wonderful record.  Keith Macksoud, Daves’s bandmate from Present contributes his bass stylings to this contemporary music opus of grand proportions. What was originally intended as a “simple” piece turned into a goblin of complexity in its execution.  Polyrhythms abound and the intensity quotient is very noticeably jacked up.  Kerman assembled disjointed jig-saw pieces into a monolith of madness that can only be described as 5uu’s on the purest of adrenalin. 
  10.  “Mouthfuls Of Gravel”-Going from an Avant-Prog scream to a slow build wall of sound with a percussion patina, the album ends in a rather fitting fashion…  an extinction event.  Kerman likens it to the apocalyptic catastrophe of 250 million years ago but somehow is strangely apropos for our current times.  Go figure.

That’s my rundown, The Quiet In Your Bones is one helluva fine return to form after a twenty-year absence and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other excellent musicians who added their talents here.  Liesbeth Lambrecht contributed lovely violas on track two, Bill Gilonis added Guitar and Bass Clarinet on track four and Joel Trieger played the guitar intro on track nine.  All did their part in yeoman fashion to help create what I would consider…dare I say, a masterpiece.

Finally, massive credit to the final mastering job by Bob Drake.  The album itself was, for the most part, recorded in a low-fi fashion which is not necessarily a bad thing…in fact, on many recordings (including this one) I would say quite the contrary.  Drakes’s final touch should be noted as an essential contributor to the overall sound world and great commendations are in order.

Top contender for best of the year…with a bullet!!!

Mike Eisenberg
Meisenberg1@hotmail.com
Twitter: @bigaudio999