Dominic Lash & Seth Cooke

Egregore
Intonema int 1024

Ermano Baron/Ginomaria Boschi/Marco Bonini

Acre

Creative Sources CS 465 CD

Electronics and their offshoots are becoming so much a part of the music of many improvisers that their presence hardly seems worth commenting on. Well that is, unless the musicians are involved in unique and imaginative creativity. Both this British duo and this Italian trio have done this, although it’s the Bristol-based pair who is fully committed to the voltaic.

This may appear somewhat aberrant since Dominic Lash, who deals with electronics on Egregore and Seth Cooke, who plays cymbals and microphones, are established as acoustic musicians elsewhere. Cooke was a drummer with the Defibrillators, while Lash’s skill as a bassist has included work with the likes of Alex Ward, Tony Bevan and Steve Noble. Reflecting the definition of Egregore as “collective group mind”, not only can no acoustic instrumental textures be detected, but the two also function as a single drone-like entity during the CD’s nearly 60-minute length.

There are subtle and implied deviations throughout the program however. The virtually opaque tone advances from hiss to buzz to vibration with the interface remaining murky, but the volume becoming either gradually louder or softer. There are also the occasional counter drones suggested with the tones alluding to striations and infrequent movement within and among the central wave form. Following the course, the ears become so used to the solid buzz that slight timbral differences can be sensed if not really heard. Finally before the single track turns from mesmerizing to stagnation, the textures gradually fade and then disappear.

In sharp contrast the Rome-based trio mix and match acoustic and electronic instruments. Ginomaria Boschi, who has worked in the past with Franco Ferguson and in New Music ensembles, plays guitar and prepared guitar; Marco Bonini, who has worked with jazzers like Roberto Gatto and Ettore Fioravanti, plays laptop and live electronics; while Ermanno Baron, who plays drums and objects here, has played with everyone from David Binney to Alipio C. Neto. Considering the instrumentation and insistence on reflective group work, Baron, Boschi and Bonini could be thought of as AMM’s Roman cousins, BBB perhaps. Evolving in real time in a concert setting, the performance’s apex is reached with “Acre Part III” and “Acre Part IV”, although the tracks are so deliberately attached that a flow is established throughout. Before the climax, an underlying drone have mixed with guitar chiming, fragmented drum whaps and elevated keyboard-source glissandi to set up the creation’s parameters. And as the modulations move from near-watery, vibrated percussion clatters, slurred guitar fingering, hollow tube-like echoes and supple oscillations gradually toughen the playing motion to reach Acre Part III” and “Acre Part IV”. With a crescendo of hair-raising cries, guttural drags and buzzing laptop-sourced glissandi, the result is spacey and grounded simultaneously with string slurs and rumbling drums finally creating a climax. This climax is highlighted by cymbal reverb which diffuses into the next track, staining the tripartite affiliation with electric voltage shakes, knife-style guitar runs and drum side scrapes. “Acre Part V” is merely a coda with instrumental balance reasserted among polyphonic and miasmatic impulses, eventually distilling the tension engendered by the crescendo with a series of keyboard splashes and percussion scrapes.

Lash & Cooke must be accepted on their own terns and Egregore is best appreciated if one likes to map electronic geography. With their mix of acoustic and electronic impulses though Baron, Boschi and Bonini’s Acre can easily be appreciated by those who don’t know a kilowatt from a kilogram – as well as those more electro-acoustically informed.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Acre: 1. Acre Part I 2. Acre Part II 3. Acre Part III 4. Acre Part IV 5. Acre Part V

Personnel: Acre: Ginomaria Boschi (guitar, prepared guitar); Marco Bonini (laptop, live electronics) and Ermanno Baron (drums, objects)

Track Listing: Egregore: 1. Egregore

Personnel: Egregore: Seth Cooke (cymbals, microphones) and Dominic Lash (electronics)