The Revoid Ensemble

The Revoid Ensemble
Found You Recordings FYR 034

Erik Hove Chamber Ensemble

Polygon

Inner Circle Music No #

Like sartorial choices which are deemed completely passé, but turn up more popular than ever years later, Third Stream Music which was declared dead and buried in the mid-1960s continues to be an accoutrement in use by many modern musicians. Although they would likely avoid the phrase itself, the composer/band leaders of these notable sessions are uniquely mixing improvised and notated tropes. The measure of their achievements is how they prevent the shibboleths of either to swamp the concepts of the other.

Beside practical experience, both men are academics. Multi-reedist Erik Hove who has worked in Montreal and New York City is studying composition at Montreal’s McGill University, while keyboardist Klas Nevrin teaches at Stockholm’s Royal College of Music and lectures on Yoga. The nine compositions on Polygon Hove’s Chamber Ensemble can be broken down into a contemporary chamber and Jazz components. There’s a three-piece string section of Kate Bevan-Baker, Jean René and Jane Chan, with Krista Martynes and Krisjana Thorsteinson playing expected orchestral reeds. Bassist Remi-Jean Leblanc and drummer Evan Tighe are the rhythm section, with most of the solos taken by Hove, using clarinet, alto saxophone and flute; trumpeter Andy King; and flutist Anna Webber. Less formally constituted, Revoid’s five compositions are interpreted by an octet of string players Anna Lindal, Katt Hernandez and Audrey Chen; Nevrin, bassist Vilhelm Bromander and percussionist Ricard Österstam plus trumpeter Eivind Lønning and reedist Per Texas Johansson.

Besides swinging call-and-response vamps and bucolic, near formal interludes, the percussion portion of Hove’s composition touch on Rock tropes, which first becomes obvious on “Fractured”, where the rhythm section appear to be aiming for a Booker T and the MGs groove. Still the cunning string and horn parts ensure the interface relates more to Murail and Sciarrino than Motown and Stax. With familiar motifs out of the way, the player are free to take on other roles, as when Tighe’s introduction to “Metal Clouds” could be describes as hunt-and-peck drumming or when signal-processing subvert expected tonal decorations on “Drift (re: synthesis II)”. The latter leads the other strings from passive to aggressive, joining warbling horns in a crescendo of timbral extensions which as quickly fade away. “Metal Clouds” also includes emotional expressions from the alto saxophone and flute, which like an auto negotiating a steep grade attains the plateaus of false climaxes before teaching the destination, “Octagon”, the final track, completes the suite by combining a relaxed theme with jittery electronics, as parallels to a Western soundtrack are suggested. There’s the feeling of relief as the law-affiliated gunslingers triumph, but enough uncertainty in the still animated sounds to leave room for outlaws return and future showdowns.

That too is something on which Hove and his Chamber Ensemble can set their sights. Besides the program’s innovative Jazz-Notated tunes, other tracks confirm the band members’ skills. There’s a cinematic face-off between syncopated fiddles and plunger trumpet on “Inversion” and a meandering sound trail that smashes into riffing polyphony on “Tetrahedron” as a crunching bass and drum rhythm collide with a heraldic trumpet solo, as the 10 players vamp to the finale.

Arrangements and compositions for the octet take on more of a variable coloration in Scandinavia than in the New World as these CDs demonstrate Individually lengthier than Hove’s, Nevrin’s tunes are also more compartmentalized. The introductory “fxbge” for instance appears most concerned with electronically affiliated textural development when wiggling and buzzing spiccato string and horn snarls intersect most of the way through, until xylophone resonation and drum crackles kick in to create a percussive exposition. This musical assurance seeps into the subsequent “15:8-c”, a processional tune that is mellow and mercurial at the same time. This is the result of framing the theme alongside reverb from Österstam’s drumming, watery reed whistles and cries from Johansson and a further push from Nevrin, whose keyboard takes the form of decorative Celeste-like coloring at points, but mostly uses propulsive mellotron-like forward thrusts.

Modifying the expected output of most of the instruments throughout, the innate friction among orchestra-like sections is used for counterpoint not conflict. For instance “#13.z” manages to blend split tone catcalls, ringing metal and jackhammer-like textures into a narrative, which if not pastoral is at least pleasant and prominent. Always searching for the perfect chord, the tunes give each of the players enough leeway to explore the sounds, whether microtonally, dissonance or straight-ahead tropes are needed. The final “Spkkr” confirms this as Lønning’s gurgling grace notes spend just enough time going back and forth in front of plinking violin, viola and cello variation as the bass and drum keep the bottom chromatic and animated.

Judging from CDs like these it’s evident that no matter what it’s called the admixture of improvised and notated concepts still has a place in forward-looking music.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Polygon: 1. Tessellation 2. Fractured 3. Polygon 4, Morse Code 5. Metal Clouds 6. Inversion 7. Tetrahedron 8. Drift (re: synthesis II) 9. Octagon

Personnel: Polygon: Andy King (trumpet); Erik Hove (alto saxophone, clarinet, flute); Anna Webber (flute, alto flute): Krista Martynes (clarinet, bass clarinet); Krisjana Thorsteinson (oboe); Kate Bevan-Baker (violin); Jean René (viola); Jane Chan (cello); Remi-Jean Leblanc (bass) and Evan Tighe (drums)

Track Listing: Revoid: 1. fxbge 2. 15:8-c 3. #13.z 4. A+psg/ 5. Spkkr

Personnel: Revoid: Eivind Lønning (trumpet); Per Texas Johansson (tenor saxophone and clarinet); Klas Nevrin (piano, keyboards); Anna Lindal and Katt Hernandez (violin); Audrey Chen (cello, voice); Vilhelm Bromander (bass) and Ricard Österstam (drums, percussion)