Vasco Trilla

Unmoved Mover
Fundacja Sluchaj FSR 04/2021

Stephen Flinn

Red Bell

Creative Sources CS 656 CD

Anything but typical solo drum sessions or average drum features are these specialized CDs by American Stephen Flinn and Catalan Vasco Trilla. Eschewing overwrought bashing or enhanced kit swaggering, each disc is more like the results of an archeological dig. Extracted from stripped-down sets consisting of cymbals, gongs and other idiophones are created worldly uncommon narratives.

Flinn, who has recorded with the likes of Steve Beresford, begins his disc on “Open Window” with a near-electronic high-pitched buzz that soon shatters into cymbal claps and clock-like chiming that soar before connecting with a cavernous echo from the bass drum. Sizzling and sliding the impulses fade into a regularized beat. Some of the later tracks include barely heard percussion vibrations, and strident cymbal scratches. This alternation between loud and quiet, harsh and delicate phonics isolates individual movement as the program evolves gradually. Although heightened multiphonics are emphasized along with subdued single tones, by the penultimate “Seeds and Rain” lowing pressure predominates. Dynamics are reaffirmed with drawn-out Big Ben-like resonations on the concluding “Teacher's Art”. These gong-like tremors mixed with brief resounding stick clanks against metal and glass emphasizes both parts of Flinn’s percussion strategy until the disc’s end.

Trilla, who has played with improvisers such as Yedo Gibson, follows a similar plan on Unmoved Mover although the first and title track is more raucous. It features police-siren-like rasps backed by single mallet reverb and low-pitched tympani throbs. He too moves through a collection of painfully shrill cymbal scratches, bottom-fastened ruffs and paradiddles plus metallic gong resonations, timpani rumbles and singular pops against glass or plastic idiophones. Ironically enough, “Causeless Cause”, the final track also relates to loud extended pulsations. Except these reverberations sound more like a town square clock chiming and shaking at the same time, as a gentler melody that could come from a music box is also audible. Still the most spectacular displays of Trilla’s skills are on “Living Bodies” and “Nous”. Moving the exposition backwards and forward on the first he expresses motion with singular stick slaps in counterpoint with energetic whaps on harder surfaces. The subsequent “Nous” slides upwards from subterranean pitches to an interlude where he seems to be channeling both a Rich vs Roach full kit challenge and higher-pitched vibrations which appear as if they’re emanating from a room full, of simultaneously sounding mechanized, acoustic and attached bells, gongs and other idiophones. Multiplied textures move forward until finally buried within a continuous drone.

Proving that solo percussion displays aren’t reserved for showoff technicians Flinn and Trilla have created ambulatory discs that confirm humanity as well as specialized percussion smarts.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Red: 1. Open 2. Breath 3. Levels of Sky 4. Divulging 5. Seeds and Rain 6. Teacher's Art

Personnel: Red: Stephen Flinn (percussion)

Track Listing: Unmoved: 1. Unmoved Mover 2. Hylomorphism 3. Ousia 4. Living Bodies 5. Nous 6. Hylozoism 7. Celestrial Spheres 8. Causeless Cause

Personnel: Unmoved: Vasco Trilla (timpani and gong)