July 26, 2022

The End of the Beginning

Astral Spirits AS 150

Part of a genre that could be termed Drone-Improv, this Chicago trio – and quartet – creates a self-contained sound world that evolve as a near solid depiction that significantly exposes feelings without straying far from its paradigm.

Known for his piano excursions with the likes of Jason Stein, Paul Giallorenzo creates a droning undercurrent, while bassist Charlie Kirchen and drummer Ryan Packard, who work with numerous Windy City bands, add measured beats and string decorations to the first tune. With “Beginning” vibrating on this rhythmic association comparison could be made to AMM, the Necks and even the original Soft Machine. As  Giallorenzo’s drone-oscillations gobble up more sonic real estate, the track become intense and opaque, though bass thumb pops and rough drum shots make their presence felt. Finally an accordion-like tremolo segues to reveal additional echoes and textures.

Adding another layer of  blended tinctures, “The End” finds Ben LaMar Gay putting aside his vocal and funk affiliations to concentrate on cornet and electronics. These distend the already defined program with portamento breaths and half-valve smears. The interjections become more prominent as the exposition become louder and speedier. Later Gay’s mewling breaths and brassy shakes join Packard’s clip-clip paradiddles, string strums and unexpected electric-piano like keyboard tickles to create a gritter more contrapuntal emphasis. By the finale, merely stretching the group archetype slightly more joins linear and melodic affiliations to the narrative. Overall, the trio – and quartet –have made an individual statement with  a colorful addition to an evolving creative music sub-genre.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. The Beginning 2. The End

Personnel: Ben LaMar Gay (cornet and electronics); Paul Giallorenzo (synthesizer, pump organ and electronics); Charlie Kirchen (bass) and Ryan Packard (drums and electronics)