Reverberations From Spring Past
Pax PR 90281
Extrapolating Californias role as avatar of the new, two musicians from San Diego and two from San Francisco produce a nine-track improvisation with very little reference to the musics initial nurturing in jazz.
Awash with squealing rumblings, wave form resonation plus triggered side band sequences, textures from Robert Montoyas electronics and Marcos Fernandes phonographies predominate. Tinctures from Fernandes percussion dont really add up to a steady rhythm, while Ernesto Diaz-Infantes acoustic steel-string guitar licks are wedded to lo-fi manipulation and folk-protest song accompaniment. Because of his instruments soprano and alto saxophones the Bay areas Rent Romus seems the most jazz-like players. But his serrated reed manipulation actually resonates with strategies from the New Thing and BritImprov.
This, by the way, is a description, not a put down. Reverberations From Spring Past works remarkably well in communicating what the four musicians set out to do. After all, Yokomo, Japan-born Fernandes and Tijuana, Mexico native Montoya helped found San Diegos Trummerflora Collective to investigate transference between electrical and acoustical forms. Here, ratcheting strokes on unidentified, metallic objects count as much as Romus reed-biting arpeggios and Diaz-Infantes dense rasgueado frailing. Pre-recorded snippets of conversations, street noises and car movement this is California after all also stud the tracks.
Diaz-Infantes single-string snaps or Montoyas eddying electronic hisses oozing to the foreground more often than not characterize the performances. One of the most distinctive achieves a near perfect electro-acoustic balance. With Fernandes shaking and stroking maracas and a güiro while Diaz-Infante strums and splashes quick rhythms on top of a rippling signal processed surface, Who Created the Cannon includes a wavering tone seeping from Romus saxophone. Mix in a few squealed brake noises and crinkling hisses and you end up with an approximation of Harlem Nocturne played on a mechanical moon.
An Offering of Interconnectedness (Live at Spring Reverb 04) parts 1 and 2 presents an extended version of the strategy with bubbling electronic interface and sequenced squeaks. But except for the greater variety of triggered distortions that sound as if theyre being strained through a mix-master, electronics and some showcased saxophone spetrofluctuation, the 17½ minutes are merely an expanded version of what went before.
Most of the time the din should be accepted as musique concrete found sounds equal to the saxophone licks or drum beats. But perhaps theres an additional subtext as well.
Its suggested at the end of Strife Over Ongoing Evil when one street-side vendor clearly articulates the phrase American Art. Defiantly, the case is being made for this definition of the proceedings. In other words, the CDs rustling patterns, animal growls and sequenced hisses, augmented by the altissimo multiphonics of Romus and the guitarists unvarying ostinato vamps are presented as being legit as any other music.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. Premonition 2. My Objectivity, Your Subjectivity 3. Blues for Ezra 4. Elation Within the Collapse of Consensus 5. Who Created the Cannon 6. Strife Over Ongoing Evil 7. Rebuke and Revolt 8. An Offering of Interconnectedness (Live at Spring Reverb 04) Part 1 9. An Offering of Interconnectedness (Live at Spring Reverb 04) Part 2
Personnel: Rent Romus (soprano and alto saxophones, voice, toys); Ernesto Diaz-Infante (acoustic steel-string guitar); Marcos Fernandes (percussion and phonographies); Robert Montoya (electronics)
June 22, 2006
Accretions ALP-027 CD
Sound Art at its most elastic, with its ever-shifting cast of characters and usual sounds, HYBRID VIGOR could be a piece of cinema waiting to be shot. But considering Hollywoods obsession with blow-em-up blockbusters, this narrative of mixed improvisations put together by percussionist/tape manipulator Marcos Fernandes is probably truer to the artists eye on CD than anything would be on film stock.
One of the founders of San Diegos Trummerflora Collective, Fernandes was born in Yokohama, Japan of Portuguese/Japanese heritage, and raised Catholic in a Buddhist country. Thus this disc includes hybrid elements of out-rock, so-called trance music, ethnic sounds and pure sonic manipulation.
Despite the addition of synthesized sounds, for instance, a couple of pieces are mostly percussion explosions, analogous to field recordings of ostensibly primitive natives working their polyrhythmic magic on sound-makers that appear to be snare drums, cymbals, kettle drums, triangles, cow bells, xylophones, steel drums, sound trees and sheets of metal. Another track is a mix-and-match compendium of ambient recordings taped in San Diego, Kona, Hawaii and Asakusa, Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan. Theres even an instrumental with the New Economy title of Convergence that, despite the name, ends up being a muted elaboration of tone-melding, featuring Lisle Ellis bass, Philip Gelbs shakuhachi and what sounds like Fernandes working out on sticks, hand drums, basket shaker and small objects resonating on a drum head.
But the key elements in his vision appear to be those tracks with extended personnel. Built around a shifting organ continuo and a metronomic drum beat Bullets For Ballots, highlighted male and female voices discussing in Spanish whats probably a South or Central American election, with soldiers one of the few words that comes through clearly. Soon the ghostly bamboo flute and constant piano vamp are succeeded by an extended screechy alto saxophone solo in counterpoint with racing piano chords and what could be described as No Wave peal point percussion.
Repetitive in an AMM or fusion-era-Miles-Davis sort of way, Undercurrents highlights a radio broadcast where mentions of Osama Bin Lade vie for attention with reports on petty crimes and traffic accidents plus weather reports and seasons greetings. Later, Michael Dessens plunger trombone chorus jockeys for auditory space with Jason Robinsons squeaky alto sax, as well as facing a constant barrage of what sound like processed electronic sounds, sampled keyboard echoes, mechanized swooshes and static.
Dessen playing extended cadenzas, that neatly sidestep mainstream jazz trombone, is accounted for on The Orange Line, at nearly 15 minutes, the CDs most lengthy number. On the same tune, guitarist Scott Homans contribution range from mere plinks to protracted amp buzzes to a whole section of chicken-scratch rhythm guitar beats. Moving between overt jazz-like allusions, which include a walking bass solo from Joscha Oetz and a standard percussion turnaround, non-generic tones make their appearance as well. Theres what appear to be calliope music, sampler swirls and an unvarying percussion cadence arising from a combination of Robert Montoya, Nathan Hubbard and Fernandes himself. Finally, the funk-influenced number ends with voices speaking Spanish. A five-minute concerto of short-wave static, surf sounds and an actuality featuring Fernandes late uncle Chris playing a Hawaiian ditty, the final track reifies the mixtures of electronic modernism and ethnic universality that characterizes the rest of the session.
Overall, this CD is a fine achievement, and one that piques interest in the composers future creations.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. Port of Call+ 2. Science Boy# 3. Undercurrents&@ 4. Convergence* 5. Bullets For Ballots+% 6. Manifested/Manifesting!# 7. The Orange Line&+@ 8. Scintillation (Dont Sing Aloha When I Go)^+=
Personnel: Michael Dessen (trombone) &; Philip Gelb (shakuhachi*); Jason Robinson (bass flute; alto saxophone [tracks 5, 7]); Scott Homan (guitar)&; Damon Holzborn (guitar and electronics [tracks 2]); Lisle Ellis (bass)*; Joscha Oetz (bass)&; Marcos Fernandes (percussion [except tracks 1, 8], shortwave^, tapes+, sampler%); Kristy Cheadle (percussion, handclaps [track 2]); Nathan Hubbard (percussion, handclaps#, percussion and electronics&); Hans Fjellestad (synthesizer [track 2] piano[track 5]); Robert Montoya (sampler)@ percussion! ; David Gould (percussion [track 6]); Marcello Radulovich (guitar, radio [track 3], bamboo flute [track 5]); Chris Fernandes (ukulele)=
October 21, 2002