Lucid Culture


Playful, Fun Vocal and Trumpet Pieces from the Twins of El Dorado

There’s nothing doomed or apocalyptic about the Twins of El Dorado‘s album Portend the End. In fact, it’s a lot of fun. Trumpeter Joe Moffett and singer Kristin Slipp play off each other with a wry cameraderie and a sense of thinking outside the box. It’s a casual, low-key album. While Slipp doesn’t hesitate to use the top end of her jaw-dropping four-octave range, Moffett usually plays it pretty chill. In such a seemingly free-form, improvisationally-inclined situation, it’s unusual to hear as much communication and commitment to maintaining a mood as these two have here: they leave the squonking and rasping and extended technique to others.

A few of the songs have lyrics; most of the time, Slipp sings vocalese in her clear, direct, unaffected soprano. The majority of the tracks are on the short side. The opening cut sets the stage, Slipp bobbing and weaving in counterpoint against Moffett: it gets funnier as it goes along. Slipp opens the second number with a giant leap and then loops her part against Moffett’s nonchalant stroll, then they switch roles. The next three tunes employ a  surreal, comedically tinged spoken word element.

Moffett then moves into nonchalant exploratory mode out of divergent harmonies, followed by an improvisation with an irrepressibly droll game of hide-and-seek. A marching miniature, an airy study in stratospheric vocals and the single piece here that veers toward performance art wind up the album. Prom Night Records gets credit for sending this intriguing and surprisingly entertaining collection out into the world.

July 31, 2013 Posted by | avant garde music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Josh Sinton’s Holus-Bolus Leaves Some Good Memories

Low-register reedman Josh Sinton’s Holus-Bolus project is defunct at this point, but they have an intriguing album to show for it. Strangely, Sinton shopped the band’s one and only recording, Pine Barren (a reference to his rural New Jersey youth) for the better part of a year before landing with upstart Brooklyn label Prom Night. Which is surprising: challenging as much of this is, it’s full of wit and irony, not to mention an impressive amount of straight-up tunesmithing considering the quintet’s fondness for the strange. Has what’s left of the labels become completely polarized between accessibility and more adventurous sounds? Sinton’s hardly an unknown, this band is playful and has star power to the extent that such a thing could or should exist: Jon Irabagon on saxes, Peter Goldberger on guitar, Peter Bitenc on bass and Mike Pride on drums.

The opening track quickly grows to a tricky circular vamp that wouldn’t be out of place in soukous music, Pride’s drums and overdubbed vibraphone mingling into what’s essentially a rhythmic tone poem, individual voices dropping out elegantly one by one as it winds down. It makes a jaunty contrast with the plaintive, rain-soaked, dirgy Water for My Father, Sinton’s growling bass clarinet and later his baritone sax providing an ominous contrast with the stately, shifting voices overhead. Deeper in the Woods Than You quickly moves from skronky guitar swing to a free-for-all, while The Earth for My Father – a variation on track #2 – raises the dirge’s intensity by setting Goldberger’s tersely majestic lines against a quarrelling cluster of horns echoed by Pride, pushing the austere beauty of the melody further and further out of the picture.

My Clarinet Teacher – a Steve Lacy tribute, possible? – takes a goodnaturedly funky groove, deconstructs it and then has fun with individual instruments doing their best to pull their completely intractable bandmates back onto the rails. I’m Still Trying wryly yet plaintively illustrates an endless series of defeats, while Goldberger’s immutable skronk anchors the twisted clave funk of Dizknee Justice Abounds.

Solo drums, solo bass clarinet and then metal-tinged guitar build an arc in the gnomically titled Five, followed by the viciously sarcastic Full of It…Love That Is, the album’s most assaultive moment – with a surprise ending. A sense of longing returns with the surprisingly quiet Starfuckers, its terse exchanges of voices slowly rising over Goldberger’s acidic resonance. They close with a warmer and more focused return to the initial Afrobeat-tinged theme. In sum, an ambitious but richly listenable and entertaining album. That’s why it seems weird that it would be overlooked – it’s not hard to imagine this band connecting with a young, hungry crowd on a bill with one of the new breed of dance/punk/jazz groups like Moon Hooch.

November 18, 2012 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Intriguing Atmospherics from Katherine Young and TimeTable

For fans of gamelan music, insurgent Brooklyn jazz label Prom Night has put out After Party Vol. 2: Releasing Bound Water from Green Material. It’s an intriguingly through-composed Katherine Young score for percussion, played with trippy verve by TimeTable (Matthew Gold, Alex Lipowski and Matt Ward) with improvisation from an ensemble including the composer on bassoon plus Brad Henkel and Jacob Wick on trumpets, Emily Manzo on piano, Nathaniel Morgan on tenor sax, Dan Peck on tuba and Jeff Snyder on keyboards. As a whole, their role is basically to add atmospherics, with the occasional brief, ghostly cameo. It’s an enjoyable, roughly 22-minute exchange of intriguing textures.

Quietly keening drones, a few things falling into place, frenetically scraping, squishy galoshes-on-wet-street sonics and low bell tones contrast in the opening piece. Is some of this an attempt to mimic PA speaker feedback, acoustically? If so, it’s amazingly authentic. The long, central track is a set piece from the Court of the Stainless Steel King. Ringing gamelanesque bells rise, more swirly than plinky, and then recede against boomy low gongs. Insistent drum accents lead to a cadenza that ushers in more lively ambience in the background. Something slides; something scurries; woodblocks enter and then vary their cadences and timbres.

The final track blends fat, bassy, booming low gong swells with a grating overtone drone (bowed crotales, maybe?) and oscillating white noise that pushes in and attempts to take centerstage. Who is the audience for this? Anyone with an ear for atmospheric or chillout music; it makes a ride up the Broadway line on the express track between Brooklyn and Manhattan considerably more interesting, and strangely, more soothing.

November 7, 2012 Posted by | avant garde music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment