Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Zero Centigrade: Birch

Zero Centigrade (duo)
Birch (Obs, 2014)
Tonino Taiuti (guitars; electronics)
Vincenzo de Luce (guitars; electronics)

One of my favourite duos, Zero Centigrade return with albeit short but highly effective album, Birch, that continues there quest in manipulating sound structures in beautiful new ways.

Birch is essentially one long piece with a number of different movements nestled inside. Opening with a common theme of folk/blues style plucking that we have become accustomed to from the duo, it gently slides into move melodic heavy drones around the six minute mark. This effectively represent the next movement which has a number of rising octaves and tremolos that haunt the senses and permeates throughout the reminder of the piece.

The hypnotic nature of the middle movements also incorporate a number of found sounds that provided the added space and intrigue to Birch. The final structure to Birch returns to the first movement with more delicate, romantic but short chords from Taiuti wrapped with searing electronic lines across the top from de Luce.

Another beautiful and absorbing release from the Italian duo. Birch continues to explore the territory that their last release, Selce did but with even more imagination left to the listener. Birch is a wonderful and meditative piece that is both engrossing with and without headphones. Highly Recommended.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Halvorson/Knuffke/Wilson: Sifter

Mary Halvorson (guitar)
Matt Wilson (drums)
Kirk Knuffke (cornet)
Sifter (Relative Pitch; 2013)

While this stellar collaboration actually came out last year, Sifter has been on repeat in house for some time now. It is probably one of the most fun and expressive releases I have heard Mary Halvorson on in a long time. The trio of Halvorson, Knuffke and Wilson demonstrate a unique companionship, they have worked with each other on various projects over the last the years, but Sifter for me, is one of their standout projects.

The performances are very melodic in their phrasing but as each musician bounces off each other the tunes become vitalized with a real hyper sense of jubilation. "Cramps" and "Don Knots" both provide rustic twang balanced out with jagged notes that mold themselves into a unified piece very quickly. Both pieces provide an element of melody that becomes very catchy and foot-stomping good.

Halvorson and Knuffke give "Original Blimp" that dangerous element with some both providing different directions for the song to follow. Halvorson guitar flows with a fun haunting and rolling pace, while Knuffke's cornet rises high along with Wilson steady kit work. All this makes for a grooving little marching number which reminded me of slowed down ska number.

"Forever Runs Slow in Cold Water" and "Absent Across Skies" are ballads but with very twisted chord changes. The trio show how their fun can turn serious a complex ed within seconds. Both pieces are intense and really shine light on how specific, calculated and united the musicians are within each number. Halvorson's looping lines towards the closing of "Forever.." are marvelous.

While I may talk about Mary Halvorson allot throughout this piece, it really is a trio session. Each musician provides writing credits for the music in the session. They each challenge each other and each rise to that challenge. But what makes this one of the my favourite records right now is the sheer fun they are having on every single track. Sifter is a good damn brilliant piece of work that every fan of these musicians should seek out quickly. Highly Highly Recommended!