June 27, 2019
Moving on from the Middle Eastern cadences they’ve dabbled with in the past, the members of Amsterdam-based sextet Spinifex decided to base all the tracks on this CD on sounds rooted in the Kurdish/Iranian Sufi traditional and/or Pakistan’s Qawali traditional music. Considering band members hail from Germany, Belgium, the US, Portugal and the Netherlands, the appeal of Soufifex is noting how the six meld these influences with the band’s usual sound underpinnings, which draw on Rock and improvised music.
Take “Dikri” for instance, the only traditional melody on the disc. If this is so, then the currents from Tehran or Karachi must have snaked into New Orleans since the theme has a Second Line lilt. While the rhythm section keeps up a rocketing Rock-oriented beat, alto saxophonist Tobias Klein and tenor saxophonist John Dikeman create some tone-shredding multiphonics. Analogously while Klein’s reed cries approximate a muezzin’s call to prayer on “Zarbi Owl”, especially when notes are held through several sequence rotations, the theme has a definite Balkan-Klezmer accent, while the reed dexterity is seconded by percussion rebounds and circled by a Dervish-like dance melody from the other horns. Thin saxophone timbres reminiscent of those from a ney enliven “Marifa” as guitarist Jasper Stadhouders’ rootsy chording provides the call to which the reeds respond. However it’s trumpeter Bart Maris’ part which is most spectacular, as his rooster-like sputtering at the beginning and subsequent heraldic broken chords cries soar over drummer Philipp Moser’s rolling ruffs.
Bassist Gonçalo Almeida acquits himself handling varied rhythms and beats without drawing undue attention; whereas Dikeman tenor playing does just the opposite. A card-carrying member of the Ecstatic Free Jazz School, he’s never fearful of injecting intensity vibrations, spetrofluctuation and all manner of split tones into his solos. This decision begins with vamping glossolalia and contrapuntal irregular cries on “Confrerie”, the first track, and continues throughout the disc. Spinifex’s most dramatic display of inter-cultural deconstruction as well as the saxophonists’ instances of multiphonic and multiple timbre displays occur on the extended “Unnecessary Lines” however. Featuring snapping percussion reverb, gong-like resonation, and a crackling line up of extended reed techniques including foghorn and fire-drill-like sirens screams and arching split tones, the track moves to an expressive climax that unites rhythmic whumps and intense overblowing.
Summing up the program: don’t look for so-called World Music or pure impov here. Instead appreciate the canny admixture that suffuses the memorable session.
Track Listing: 1. Confrerie 2. Drinks & Logistics 3. Zarbi Owl 4. AHAP 5. Unnecessary Lines 6. Marifa 7. Dikri
Personnel: Bart Maris (trumpet); Tobias Klein (alto saxophone); John Dikeman (tenor saxophone); Jasper Stadhouders (guitar): Gonçalo Almeida (bass) and Philipp Moser (drums)