Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dorge/Sorey/Westegaard: Like Salamanders We Survive

Pierre Dorge (guitar)
Tyshawn Sorey (drums, piano)
Torben Westergaard (bass)
Like Salamanders We Survive (Gateway Music; 2014)

What happens when a trio just sits down in the studio and say to each other--"just play." A daring and sprawling accomplishment results. That's what Dorge, Sorey and Westergaard have done with Like Salamanders We Survive. This is an improvised session which comes off as very well structured and devised. But that's because these musicians are veterans at their craft.

The movements through Salamanders are effortless but also engrossing for listener. "Homage To Dragoman" is beautifully laid out. With spare line and slightly atmospheric effects from both Sorey and Dorge. While Westergaard adds a haunted bassline that crawls throughout the piece.

The trio present an number of divergent themes throughout the session. On "Who Am I To Play?," Sorey shows his unique and distinct talent at the drums. A kit that clatters and calms at all the right moments. While his bandmates counter with wonderfully synchronized patterns that go from frenetic to funky. At times reminding me of a mixture of Naked City meets Headhunters. Just beautifully creative stuff.

"Speaking Of Which" a dark and introspective piece with Eastern influences showcases a softer side during this session. It's dream-like in its approach and the trio still add a number of improvised passages to keep the listener's ears challenged.

Like Salamanders We Survive is a brilliant work that needs to absorbed in multiple listening sessions. I found myself coming back to particular tracks over and over. Constantly I found myself missing something. That's when you know you found a great record for your collection.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Kaja Draksler: The Lives Of Many Others

Kaja Draksler (piano)
The Lives Of Many Others (Clean Feed; 2013)

Hauntingly beautiful. That's the best way to describe The Lives Of Many Others from Kaja Draksler. This solo piano session brilliantly showcases Draskler's avant garde spirit which was already apparently on previous releases. But here we get a more intimate yet dynamic perspective.

Over the first three pieces we experience a diversity of free form and expansive classical structures that are fun, exciting and challenging. This is highlighted in "Communication Entropy/Andromeda." where Draksler moves within different motifs and crafts a wonderful storyline for the listener.

The extended piece "Suite: Wronger:Eerier:Stronger Than (Just A Thought):I Recall," is improvisation with perfected and well balanced lines. Quiet movements draped in watersheds of rolling notes moving in one singular pattern leaving you gasping at her accuracy on the keys.

While "Delicious Irony" and "Army Of Drops" are reminiscent of Vijay Iyer or Jason Moran as contemporary comparisons--Draskler's intensity allows you to get lost in the melodic atmosphere more than the aforementioned musicians but with a little more irreverence and subtle humour.

Kaja Draksler is already a growing name within the European community but with The Lives Of Many Others you can see how this rich and expressive voice should have big impact everywhere else very soon.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Necks: Open

The Necks (trio)
Open (ReR; 2013)
Chris Abrahams (piano)
Lloyd Swanton (bass)
Tony Buck (drums)

With Open, their seventeenth album, Australian trio, The Necks turn more understated than usual. A calm ambience that is more reminiscent of recent Harold Budd material drifts effortless throughout this hour long piece.

Opening with subtleties of gentle drum beats and slow rhythmic patterns in the basslines, the trio takes you on slow journey through its first quarter of an hour. Setting an ethereal soundscape that is both soothing and adventurous, the piece begins to expand in its middle movements with the additions of chimes and more detailed and rolling layers of piano lines from Abrahams. These notes and effects quickly rotate into a very hypnotic passage.

And the final passage becomes more focused with a slight groove adjacent to the improvised patterns. These notes finally collide with the an almost Eastern melodic pattern to close out the session in a beautiful psychedelic manor.

For those unfamiliar with The Necks, you can always jump in at any point. With any record you find. Anywhere. But without a doubt, Open is an excellent starting point to find out what all your friends have been raving about for over a decade. This will be one of the best records you will ever own. I hope... Highly, Highly Recommended!