Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Weasel Ways

Weasel Walter Large Ensemble and Tony Dryer/Jacob Felix Heule/Bobby Loachfillet Trio @ The Uptown, Oakland, CA
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Weasel Walter: drums
Aram Shelton: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone
Ava Mendoza: guitar
Aaron Bennett: baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone

Tony Dryer: bass
Jacob Felix Heule: percussion
Bobby Loachfillet: electronics

With a single movement, large-scale conceptual chamber work for a large ensemble Weasel Walter unleashed a cycle of ten chords propelled along an hour of creative noise. A piece that confronted the paradox of "writing for improvising musicians," as Weasel Walter put it in his introduction, "in a way that allows them to do their own thing, but still control the output." He went on to assess how his composition measured up to that: "It's kind of a paradox. And I don't know if I've met that challenge. But it sounds good so I really don't fucking care." What this piece did accomplish was the application of a simple form in a manner that allows these players to "work it."

This kind of intense, conceptual music will find its way into more "legitimate" venues like concert halls one day. That will be a sad day as the gritty, unkept quality of this music brings so much electricity as it reverberates off the painted black dives such as The Uptown. This is where uncompromisingly progressive ideas are being realized as Weasel Walter (an others, notably The Zs) unleashes the modern day equivalent of The Rite of Spring with the calculated "primitivism" of this richly layered wall of noise. Walter's conducting included a set of cue cards designed to shape group and individual improvisations in real time. Single word instructions such as "louder," "quieter" and "weirder" providing an unsubtle prodding of an ensemble already working from the same aesthetic page. The final moments of this piece was the sound of "weirder" unleashed several times over. A sound well worth the build up leading into it.

The short Dryer/Heule/Loachfillet Trio set that followed gently pulled the evening back into a sonic space of frictions and micronoise. Loachfillet's electronic processing and live analog tape manipulations punching through with waves of amplified noise interwoven with the acoustic machinations of Dryer and Heule.

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