Trance Map

November 22, 2023

Etching the Ether
Intakt CD 409

Constantly seeking novel sonic areas in which to explore, Trance Map, UK saxophonist Evan Parker’s newest disc raises the question of when are four musicians not a quartet. That’s because this cornucopia of synthesized expression was first recorded by Parker, American trumpeter Peter Evans and British sound designer Matthew Wright. Figuring that the textures from his soprano saxophone, oscillations from Wright’s electronics and Evans’ brass extensions needed more zest however, American drummer Mark Nauseef’s percussion interludes were added in post-production.

Nauseef, whose playing experience encompasses ethnic music, hard rock bands and free improv, was sensitive enough to the idea so that his intermittent idiophone attachments merely embellish the program. So is this a quartet or a trio plus one session? That’s actually a moot question Since the bell-like tolling, marimba-like echoes and drum kit thumps are no more prominent than the saxophonist’s frequent circular breathing exercises; the trumpeter’s bitten off triplets or brass flatulence; and the sound designer’s voltage undulations and whizzes.

Seemingly divided into an introduction, elaboration and conclusion, the first track is thickened by brass growls and reed flutters as electronic timbres and responsive clangs hang in the air. Before concluding with a coda of gong-like tolling and occasional electronic shudders, the final track gives the horn players space to conclude the dynamic intensity both exhibit on “Drawing Breath “, the central and longest improvisation. As the two elaborate the exposition, polyphonic miasma evolves and detours into extended techniques which encompasses Evans’ bugling advances, plunger snarls and mewling cries plus Parker’s tongue stops and strained trills. This doesn’t preclude reflective melodic interaction from both, further intensified by idiophone clashes and wave form crunches.

Working down the scale, piccolo trumpet peeps and low-pitched reed split tones slide against one another as tambourine-like slaps and electronic twitters gradually fade into the background. The result produces timbral reciprocity which clearly leads to the climax and coda. No matter the number of musicians involved what has been etched during the program is an instance of propound improvisation , live and programed.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. At Altitude 2. Drawing Breath 3. Engaged in Seeking

Personnel: Peter Evans (trumpet and piccolo trumpet); Evan Parker (soprano saxophone); Mark Nauseef (percussion) and Matthew Wright (live electronics and sound design)