Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rob Mazurek's Starlicker: Double Demon

Double Demon (Delmark; 2011)
Rob Mazurek (cornet)
John Herndon (drums)
Jason Adasiewicz (vibraphone)

I have been a fan of Rob Mazurek for only a couple of years, after picking up a copy of one of his many collective groups, Exploding Star Orchestra. One of the great things I've always liked about Mazurek's records is how different they are from each other. There are many artists in recent years who collaborate with different group and ensembles but the material somehow ends up sounding very similar. For the most part that's not a bad thing. But it does leave the listening with the question, "What's next?".

Rob Mazurek's latest project, Starlicker, and there debut Double Demon, is definitely in the category of "what's next". A collection of deep exploratory sounds built on a number layered themes. In all it works beautifully. Double Demon while recorded by a trio has the muscle and dexterity of an ensemble. Those you will familiar with this trios individual works will know that they all enjoy the use/manipulation of space and sound. Together this unique lineup (no bass) have created a highly enjoyable and other-worldly recording. There have always been comparisons with Sun Ra when it comes to the compositional structure Rob Mazurek writes but this trio plants a different seed in the listener's ear.

Double Demon was born out improvising sessions and then a brief tour to coordinate material in front of an audience. The music and the trio work as tight well, organic unit. The title track illustrates this wonderfully. It's a fierce opening number with rolling patterns and moments where vibes, drums and cornet become one. It may sound like a cacophony but it's actually beauty in rhythm. "Triple Hex" moves with delicate low level sonic patterns with Mazurek and Adaisewicz combining with well balance ambient tones. The tune finally erupts with the inclusion of Herndon with some impressive percussive work. It's hypnotic and challenging and highly illuminating. "Andromeda" gives off a vibes of the title tracks little brother. Except here, Herndon is the driving force with Adaisewicz and Mazurek both adding the harmonic to exciting effect.

Double Demon is a unique session in the Mazurek catalogue in the way he has stripped his usual quintet, quartet or ensemble format. It has allow for more focus and concentrate build up on song structure than previous outings. Rob Mazurek still might not everyones cup of tea but his ability to make varied and exciting recordings every time out is just one of many reason you need to take the journey and listen to Starlicker. Enjoy...

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