CD Reviews

Wednesday 24th August

August 25, 2011

Here’s one that might amuse some of you. The two new Michael Pisaro albums on Gravity Wave arrived here yesterday, and, this morning I planned to try and listen to one of them on my way to work in the car. This isn’t a great way to listen of course, but I was eager to hear how they sounded, so I took the disc out of its sleeve so as to make it easier to just slide into the car CD player, went and put-on my work clothes and then headed out to the car. I slid the disc into the player a I pulled away, and was really surprised within minutes at how different the disc sounded for Pisaro, and found myself amazed that Greg Stuart had managed to make his percussion sound so much like a saxophone. For about two more minutes as I drove I continually remarked to myself what a huge sidestep this was for Pisaro, and it was just while I was trying to work out how much I liked his new direction that it dawned on me that I had picked up the wrong disc and was playing something else entirely.

The CD I had been playing, was in fact a trio recording by current TWE regulars Heddy Boubaker, (alto and bass sax) Ernesto Rodrigues (viola) and Abdul Moimeme (prepared electric guitars). Released on Creative Sources (disc 194!) the album is titled Le Beau Déviant. I listened again on my way home from work, and then again a couple of times properly this evening on a decent stereo through which I could never have mistaken it for Michael Pisaro…

Le Beau Déviant (deviating beauty?) is indeed a quite good title for this release. Its a set of six straight-up improvisations of three instruments played non-melodically, non-conventially and yet sounding much like we might expect, a mix of squealing, slithering reeds, rasping and groaning strings and the less predictable hum and crack of electric guitar. Moimeme’s contributions here, perhaps unsurprisingly form the main branching-out point for this music, as his sounds barely resemble a guitar, instead having the feel of an intimate form of industrial or mechanical processes, all thuds and fizzes and various other points in between. Its all a quite aggressive affair, not really loud or dynamically confrontational, but somehow the music feels like a tussle over important issues, a hot headed debate rather than anything soft and beautiful. Things rasp and wail and bubble around one another, not too fast and not without a sense of space, but this equally isn’t a subdued affair.

I’m not sure as to how much the musicians had played together at the time of this recording in October last year, but there does seem to be a nice balance here, perhaps formed in part from the mix of instrumentation which brings a little of everything to the equation. While there is a confidence to the playing though, and no sign of any “feeling out” of the musical scenario it does’t all just build to some kind of climax. The trio tussle and tubule around each other at an even pace and with considerable thought throughout.

I can’t make any great claims of this disc to be any more than it is- a CD of a well chosen improvising trio producing a disc that is a pleasure to wallow in, thoroughly engaging to sink your ears into. As I spend more and more time with his music, I find myself enjoying Ernesto Rodrigues’ work more and more though. Its not that anything he appears on attempts to rewrite the rules, and it often sounds how you imagine it might, but my enjoyment of his music, and also of Le Beau Déviant comes out of this factor. We can put innovation to one side here, and just spend some time listening to musicians lock horns and find a way to make music together. The end result is a pleasing, well recorded set of six works, but the journey we follow as listeners here, perhaps trying to break apart the music in our heads to figure out which sound comes from where, perhaps doing the opposite and trying to meld it all together is what makes listening to this release so worthwhile. One of these days I will try and narrow down the albums of Ernesto Rodrigues to four or five I can really recommend, but when I do I suspect that several from this recent rich vein of form will be on the list. None of them though, sound like Michael Pisaro.

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