Natura Morta

Natura Morta
Prom Night Records No #

By Ken Waxman

Using only acoustic instruments, the members of Natura Morta replicate the harsh textures of musique concrete with juddering crunches, abrasive squeaks and vibrating pops. Eschewing amplification, the Brooklyn-based trio of violist Frantz Loriot, bassist Sean Ali’s bass and drummer Carlo Costa operate in a dense landscape where extended techniques and instantaneous timbral actions reconfigure their instrument’s conventional timbres into sometimes unidentifiable pieces of a jagged sound picture.

With the exact same personnel as legendary early ‘70s chamber-jazz outfit The Revolutionary Ensemble, Natura Morta defines its individuality by displacing that trio’s blues and jazz echoes with instant compositions that draw on contemporary advances in electronics and notated music. Young veterans all, French-Japanese Loriot, Italian Costa and Ohio-native Ali have individually worked with a variety of New York bands, most regularly with Euro expats like reedist Joachim Badenhorts and bassist Pascal Niggenkemper.

Self-contained, the CD’s tracks range from the three first, which stack and contrast atonal sounds to the final “Glimmer”, which is so opaque that it appears that tape machines and electronic impulses are behind its creation rather than wood, skin, metal and catgut. Beginning with thunder-sheet-like echoes, bass string reverberations and viola string plucks, “Glimmer” includes approximations of signal-processed oscillations and throbbing buzzes. A quasi-sonata of isolated actions, separated by silences, the narrative encompasses cymbal pings, shrill string rubs and low-pitched string reverb that each are momentarily isolated then vanish within dense quivers and flat-line drones.

Earlier improvisations give more exposure to Loriot’s sul ponticello and spiccato string stopping, Ali’s thick balanced strokes and Costa’s carefully placed rim shots and bass drum smacks. A climax of sorts is reached on “Hive”, where the three perfectly balance the angled and quivering friction produced by vibrating wooden sticks lodged among the viola’s and bass’s taut string sets with the ceremonial references created as Costa smacks his kit with Taiko drum-like power.

Daring and inventive on their debut, the members of Natura Morta are sure to heard – and heard of – again in this or other configurations.

Tracks: Entropy; Hive; Marrow; Glimmer

Personnel: Frantz Loriot: viola; Sean Ali: bass; Carlo Costa: drums

—For New York City Jazz Record July 2012