Numinous Opossum

Find the Burrow and Bury Your Head
Umbrella 29

By Ken Waxman

An ad hoc trio session, Find the Burrow and Bury Your Head, is a minimalist experiment in group improvisation where the journey is more important than the destination.

Still, more variations in timbre and inflection could have given the trip multiform scenery and make it seem less like a bus ride through miles of flat prairie. Oddly none of the players hail from the mid-West. Andrew Voigt who plays flute, and bass flute, sopranino and alto saxophones and Morgan Guberman, a quirky soundsinger and electric bassist are both from the Bay area. Ian Davis is a resourceful percussionist from North Carolina,

Bucking the uniform evenness, Davis’ odd metered percussion at times adds some protuberance as does Guberman’s distinctive mouth-and-throat vocalizing. But despite his horn collection Voigt holds everything to an even keel. Certainly when the near-stillness of his flute playing begins to resemble the ceremonial sound of a cross-blown Chinese dizi, stasis isn’t far off. Much more impressive are those tunes where a long unsegmented reed timbre seems to have an electronic drone accompanying it, only to have the sound revealed as Davis gradually turning up the pressure on a cymbal with a cross drawn drum stick.

Then there’s “Blinding Heliotrope”, where bluebird-like trilling tones move up in pitch to chickadee-like multiphonics. Soon rubs and scrapes in the background from both bassist and drummer make it seem as if small animals are loose in the studio, as Guberman’s throat swallowing and mouth panting extended with internal yodels add to the bestial primitivism. “Jester” is a particular display of Davis’ percussion inventiveness. As Voigt projects chromatic flute runs, the drummer taps single notes from his unattached cymbal. This soon evolves into a duet of wooden stroked tones and tongue slaps which extend still further into disconnected and unstable wavering trills – from both flute and saxophone. Guberman’s electric bass confines itself to low-key rumbling, as the percussionist daintily strokes his cymbals and further manipulates drum pitter-patter probably with his bare hands. Diminuendo finds a legato soprano trill demarcating percussion movements that sound like someone balling and unfolding aluminum foil.

Davis introduces unique timbres to the final and title track with sounds that appear to be sand grains being jiggled, tiny bells being shaken and rim shots that mirror the reedist’s multiphonic echoes. Voigt adds glottal punctuation, melodious smeared flattement and individual slurs from different staves of the horn and Guberman contributes ponticello swipes, shuffle bowing and steady thumb pops from his bass; as well as verbal mumbles, quacks, retches and nonsense syllables from his vocal chords. Still, the track’s 22-minute length almost defeats this inventiveness.

In MusicWorks Issue #96