Rossbin RS 022

As involved with the tonal textures of electronics as her previous project was with the sound variations from brass and reeds, IN::TENSION is another potent demonstration of Laura Andel’s compositional abilities.

The Buenos Aires-born, New York-based, woodwind player and composer extends her parameters on IN::TENSION:. by utilizing the timbres available from electric guitars, percussionists and prepared pianos. Just about the only stand-alone acoustic instruments are Taylor Ho Bynum’s cornet and Harvey Wirht’s drums.

Bynum and Wirht, plus Ursel Schlicht who plays acoustic and prepared piano here, and Kyoko Kitamura who extends her vocalization with electronics, are the only carry-overs from Andel’s horn-heavy 2003 SOMMAMBULIST project. There were also 14 musicians that time out, while only 10 are involved with IN::TENSION:.

Although this CD too mixes composed and improvised sections, there’s no back story as there was for the earlier project. At least one assumes that, although there are points at which Kitamura’s mumbling, yodeling and warbling imply that a tale might be part of the original plan. Grouping the musicians into various cells of similar instruments, Andel also plays with the rhythms and repetition implicit in minimalism. Possessing the most easily identifiable sounds, Schlicht and Bynum come across as the most upfront soloists, though the bravura broken chords often emanating from Carl Maguire’s accordion shouldn’t be downplayed.

Most of the tracks feature oscillating electronic patterns that flutter as distorted guitar riffs, keyboard patterning and layered scraped and rubbed percussive claim portions of the sonic space. Results may be a fortissimo climax of fuzztones, high frequency pianism and conga-drum like beats or, in contrast, polyphonic pitches that enjoin theremin whistles, whinnying grace notes from the cornet and quivering accordion diminishment.

While much of the rest of the CD appears to rely on détente between minimalism and improvisation, “Part VII:: Ecos:.”, the touch-over-12 minutes longest track introduces ritual as well. High-frequency thrusts from Schlicht make common cause with foreshortened thumping tones from the massed percussion of David Simons, Andrew Drury and Harvey Wirht, plus resonating reverb from Joel Harrison on electric guitar, Khabu Young on electric baritone guitar and Kenta Nagai on fretless electric guitar. Decorated with pregnant silences, Kitamura’s vibrating squeals and throat melisma are doubled with electronics in such a way as to suggest foreign language phrasing. Meantime as the guitars’ flange, her yodels are mated contrapuntally with Bynum’s tones plus offbeat ruffs and doubled flams from the drummers,

Fortissimo squeeze-box looping, clipped guitar phrases and filtered feedback, prepared piano hammers, plucks and slides and high-pitched, but muted chromatic riffs from Bynum make their appearance elsewhere, as do percussion intervals that suggest gong reverberation, bell ringing and steel drum patterns. From time to time, the vocalist also steps forward with ghostly howls.

On one hand related to the orchestral conductions of organized improvisations such as Butch Morris and Masashi Harada, and on the other the execution of Anthony Braxton’s cyclic Ghost Trance Music, Andel and her crew create a fascinating and unique take on group sounds.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Part I:: Noticias:. 2. Part II:: Resonancias:. 3. Part III:: Descuido:. 4. Part IV:: Caídas:. 5. Part V:: Puntos:. 6. Part VI:: Dos:. 7. Part VII:: Ecos:.

Personnel: Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet); Joel Harrison (electric guitar and electronics); Khabu Young (electric baritone guitar and electronics); Kenta Nagai (fretless electric guitar and electronics); Ursel Schlicht (piano and prepared piano and electronics); Carl Maguire (prepared fender Rhodes and accordion); David Simons (theremin and percussion); Andrew Drury (percussion); Harvey Wirht (drums); Kyoko Kitamura (voice and electronics); Laura Andel (conductor)