Sunday, August 19, 2007

Killick & 3/5ths of Benito Cereno @ the Red Room

Killick (H'arpeggione), Neil Feather (guitaint, nojo), Samuel Burt (guitaint, clarinet, voice)
Dustin Hurt (trumpet), Ian Fraser (electronics), Tim Albro (electronics)
@ The Red Room, Baltimore, MD - August 18, 2007

The first set of improvised micro-tonal music on other-worldly invented string instruments was sheer bliss. It was refreshing to hear a trio plunge head-long into such an unfamiliar harmonic territory with little more than ears and guile to guide them. The added unfamiliarity of these invented instruments completed the aural image of vast, under-explored musical territory unfolding. The sound that these three arrived at so intuitively was deeply encouraging to my micro-tonal heart.

Killick's long-necked, fretted cello-like instrument was especially interesting. At times it seemed like even the smallest movement, a slight pluck or slow strum, would expose unexpected and striking variations on the sound pallet.

The second set of the evening featured three members of the Philadelphia-based quintet Benito Cereno. Dustin Hurt was flanked on either side by card tables overloaded with electronic gear (of varying vintage) as Ian Fraser and Tim Albro covered the stereo field with their sometimes dense, but mostly quiet, electronic sound. I seemed to be sitting in the "sweet spot" of the room with the bell of the trumpet squarely in the center. The focus of the improvisational textures switched away from the harmonic territory of the first set in favor of a noise-oriented approach. Dustin Hurt's extended technique on the trumpet made for a good match with the prevailing white-noise and processed radio signal oriented sonic environment as he focused on breath and some gritty sounds running through the plumbing of his horn. Late in the set he began to introduce more familiar trumpet-like tones into the mix and they were a welcome and fleeting addition to the tense soundscape.

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