Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Dom Minasi, Hans Tammen, Harvey Valdes, Briggan Krauss, Eight Hands One Mind, In Memory of Bern Nix


The Dom Minasi Guitar Quartet jumps ahead on their tribute to Bern Nix, guitarist with Ornette Coleman 1975-87 and then a key force on the New York improvisational scene until his untimely death in 2017. The album is appropriately titled Eight Hands One Mind (UR Unseen Rain Records).

The project came about when Dom Minasi put together some six compositions for four guitars in a kind of New Music Modern zone that required all four players idiomatically to realize the written parts while also as called upon to improvise freely in ways that rhythmically-harmonically fit the overall compositional framework. The original guitar line-up was Dom plus Hans Tammen, Harvey Valdes and Bern Nix. Rehearsals went well and then a final rehearsal was scheduled before the studio recording was to take place.  Sadly Bern Nix passed away before that could happen. Eventually the quartet was reconstituted with Briggan Krauss in place of Nix. And the music was finalized and performed as a fitting tribute to the brilliant guitarist, and at the same time a memorable New Music-Improv offering that Bern no doubt appreciated in those rehearsal days.

Listening to this one is a real pleasure--the compositions are intricate, detailed, advanced and filled with Modern openings outward in ways that seamlessly join fully interactive four-way compositional counterplay to free improvisations that in turn serve to extend the music's province while also bringing out the collective musical personalities of the players.

It surely is a triumph of bridging between New Music and Avant Improv. The musical content makes initial sense and intrigues on first hearing, then proceeds to grow ever more rewarding with repeated listens. Dom's compositions are outstanding examples of the synchrony of possibilities between to two domains, a series of exploratory gems that end up showing us a musically astute route between the compositionally profound and the spontaneously vital.

Kudos to all concerned. This is music that resonates in part with how Bern Nix thought of his guitar role, something akin to what he was hearing-playing in his head then. It is an album anyone interested in advanced guitar should listen to carefully but also some great music for anyone who follows the "serious" music scene. Either should find this a joy to hear. Bravo. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Fake Dudes, Magnet Animals, Todd Clauser, Eyal Maoz, etc.


As time passes we sometimes get a feeling of coming full circle, other times of absolute linearity. And of course these event-flow perceptions can be mixed up in some lived moments. So the event-ual feeling of linear history might hit us in the experience of historical time lately, while the art-music present can also feel like a re-thinking of music we have heard and appreciated? And so the very electric quartet of Magnet Animals on their recent album Fake Dudes (RareNoise RNR0126CD RNR126LP) nicely reminds me in some ways of later King Crimson, yet not at all in some obvious sense, and other times goes beyond that to some other, often enough unique territory. 

Yet there is an emphasis on in-time poetic recitation and sometimes musical vocals from Todd Clauser against a two guitar psychedelic haze of post-prog from Clauser and Eyal Maoz, a busy, creative and rock solid electric bass from Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, and the fire-y rock drumming of Jorge Servin.

Ten advanced, artfully arranged and musically contentful tracks await the hearer. There is a moment or two that has an affinity to Hendrix's "Third Stone" rhythmic envelopes, other times a backbeat laying out, and sometimes some other creative spontaneity. I found the second hearing assured me that this is substantial music to grow into and the listens after that only reaffirmed the feeling.  The poetics-lyrics are descriptive narrations, openly deep, both expressive-factual and at times surreal, but ever worth your time and attention.

We need music like this, that despite the tumult of the times insists on creating an electric art music that is somehow authentic and continues to open up advanced Rock horizons. Hurrah for that. Definitely recommended.