Very late writing tonight after a long day at work, a couple of hours sleep in the afternoon and then some time subjecting Julie to my “cooking” this evening. Its now half past midnight as I begin to write this, but I’ve committed myself to a review every night this week so I’m sticking to my word!
The past couple of days I’ve spent a little time with a new all-acoustic improv disc on the Russian based Mikroton label by the WPB3 trio of Heddy Boubaker, (alto and bass sax) Mathias Pontevia (those mysterious horizontal drums again, and other percussion) and Nusch Werchowska (piano and objects). I wrote about a previous release by this group some time ago here, and essentially described them as a decent, skilled, thoughtful group playing a somewhat standard strain of free improv. While this new CD, named A Floating World doesn’t really change that viewpoint, I should add that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this CD turned up reasonably loud, immersed in all that is going on, following the musicians’ interaction, musical taunts, discussions and tussles. There are four pieces here, all quite lengthy, witht he briefest still clocking in at over fifteen minutes. The album is nicely recorded and very nicely mastered, with an appealingly dry finish to it that works well with the many textural sounds going on here.
The four pieces each have their own character, with the first; Liquicy Ride full of a softer, grainy feel, with dry breathy sax and bowed and rubbed percussion mixing with lightly caressed piano notes. Deep South, White Heat is a more broken up and aggressive piece that mixes white space with sudden flurries and a lot more attack. The brilliantly titled No Difference Between a Fish is maybe the nicest track here, a mix of the first two approaches, with some beautiful colours and timbres folded together but with an undercurrent of tension and several small eruptions of activity bursting through the surface. The Wrinkles of the System is maybe the most tightly cohesive of the tracks, almost slipping into drone mode once or twice as a more laminal approach is taken.
All of the pieces here easily fall under the banner of free improvisation however. There are absolutely no surprises or innovations here, not that there needs to be for any reason. A Floating World has been prepared to an old recipe, but that’s not to say it doesn’t taste really good. The playing here is top notch, with Pontevia’s percussion in particular really standing out as his work here has really impressed me again. He uses a wide range of sounds, but crucially his choice-making and placement is excellent here as it has been on several recent discs I have heard. I have a new solo release from Pontevia awaiting my attentions here as well right now, I very much look forward to that one.
So a solid, strong and highly enjoyable seventy-plus minutes of music that should definitely appeal to those with a taste for good tight acoustic improv that twists, flows and evolves actively without dripping in adrenalin. A really nice one to sink deep into and wallow about in.