Saturday, June 28, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Slanting Time with Open Arms

The Zs: Arms. 2007. Planaria: PR029.

Sam Hillmer: tenor saxophone, vocals
Matthew Hough: electric guitar, vocals
Charlie Looker: electric guitar, baritone guitar, vocals
Ian Antonion: drumset, percussion, vocals
Brad Wentworth: drumset, percussion

Precision with a progressive edge in the service of a relentless creativity. The Zs open up a wide territory with Arms reaching between the chanting vocal unisons of "Nobody Wants To Be Had" over a texture of razor sharp abrasion to the soft lull of "Z Is For Zone." This is a rare band capable of mining both the meditative trance-inducing state and the brutal, high-decibel jump cut without sacrificing their aggressive, almost manic, attention to detail and extreme precision. Ugly beautiful.

Birgit Ulher/Ernst Thoma: Slants. 2003. Unit Records: UTR 4142.

Birgit Ulher: trumpet
Ernst Thoma: live electronics (and the blue wheel instant composing machine)

Birgit Ulher is a sound artist with a background in the visual arts. And the sensibilities come through in the stark lines and track titles named after colors. With "Skyblue" taking up the lion's share of the total duration in this pack of sonic crayons, it's the scarcity of layering that brings out the detail of this trumpet and electronics collaboration. Each element of sound is given generous space as these pieces spell out a desolate, lonely environment of windswept hues.

Mark Dresser/Denman Maroney: Time Changes. 2005. Cryptogramophone: CG124.

Mark Dresser: bass
Denman Maroney: hyperpiano
Michael Sarin: drums, percussion
Alexandra Montano: voice

These Cryptogramophone releases over the past few years have been so impressive and consistent that it's hard not to keep coming back into the sonic worlds so beautifully recorded on these discs. Time Changes is just one of those releases that gives an aural insight into the collaboration between Mark Dresser and Denman Maroney with a set of pieces focused on creative ways to warp the dimension of time. "Apertivio" takes a C minor blues and subjects it to a modulating tempo while Maroney's charts - notably "MC" and "Kilter" - explore an independence between parts and players with its wicked polyrhythms dangling from a steady pulse. The addition of Michael Sarin's percussive wares and Alexandra Montano's wordless vocals fill out the timbral soundscape with arrangements that give equal attention to color and melodic phrasing to match the relaxed intensity of undulating time.

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