Patricia Brennan, More Touch, Pyroclastic ***1/2

The album as a format has never been so slight physically given it can be reduced to a few lines of embedded code. But music never before the recording age needed physicality of format (beyond sheet music) between performer and listener to prove …

Published: 17 Dec 2022. Updated: 42 days.

The album as a format has never been so slight physically given it can be reduced to a few lines of embedded code. But music never before the recording age needed physicality of format (beyond sheet music) between performer and listener to prove its existence - ponder on that the next time you are sitting in a venue hidden behind a pillar and can't even see the stage properly or close your eyes to simply listen.

If there was no documentation - music, certainly the thought and memory of it - would still exist. Surely invisibility is part of the actual appeal. And so perhaps that reduction to the barest of pieces of code was actually bound to happen eventually. And the future won't even be things to click on let alone buttons to press. Instructing smart speakers is as close as we can get at the moment to thinking of music in our heads, the sort of thing we need and want to hear right now, given that the thought gains life beyond the impressions we cling on to whether a few notes here or there or the ability to replicate or not what we think we are hearing.

There isn't anything slight about Patricia Brennan's approach. In fact quite the opposite and there is a firm compositional profile already in Brennan's work. We kind of know that already because of recordings this year with Mary Halvorson and earlier on such stimulating work as Matt Mitchell's Phalanx Ambassadors and most significantly her own Maquishti.

'Space for Hour' here is the major piece with its ghostly presence typical of Brennan's approach throughout scaling up through a certain momentousness that harnesses dynamic underpinnings and conjures a waiting sensation. There is a panoramic sweep and woozy electronic eeriness about 'The Woman Who Weeps' which says much for her profile as a composer who just happens to play the vibes or marimba. Avant-garde in the sense that this is serious sounding but never feels as if it is beamed down from another planet - the mix is tactile and warm and Marcus Gilmore's tumbling drumming lights up a great many passages. I do yearn for a horn player or a strings section in the overall sound however to give the overall outcome extra dimensions and fill out all the possibilities implied in the writing. The other players here on this fine 2022 recording are percussionist Mauricio Herrera and bassist Kim Cass. SG

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Jeff Parker ETA IVtet, Mondays at The Enfield Tennis Academy, Eremite ****

ETA as in a Los Angeles bar - the letters standing for the Enfield Tennis Academy. The bar is a homage to David Foster Wallace. Live album of the year? Yes, up there in drastically more casual but no less serious circumstances along with the Wayne …

Published: 17 Dec 2022. Updated: 43 days.

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ETA as in a Los Angeles bar - the letters standing for the Enfield Tennis Academy. The bar is a homage to David Foster Wallace. Live album of the year? Yes, up there in drastically more casual but no less serious circumstances along with the Wayne Shorter Detroit album referred to here and the spectacular Soweto LSO epic White Juju. Tortoise guitar genius Jeff Parker is here with Suite For Max Brown saxophonist Josh Johnson, bassist Anna Butterss and drummer Jay Bellerose who was on Solomon Burke late period masterpiece Don't Give Up On Me.

Drill into Van Morrison's 'Fast Train' for Bellerose's stellar touch on the Burke album. In a parallel universe Bellerose is very important on Mondays at The Enfield Tennis Academy and is in hypnotic listening mode touching the kit when it makes elemental sense, not minimalist at all, just necessary even Gadd-like in the overall gravity of time and role. Parker's playing wisdom is profound, the timing and subtlety exquisite as is his scalar resource. The complete recordings made at the ETA add up to 10 hours apparently. More of these please.

[Reposted from November 2022]