February 16, 2019
Iluso Records IR CD 14
Fish from Hell
Moby Dick Wanted
Mr Morezon 015
Overcoming the limitations of having the baritone saxophone as the one front line instrument backed by a two-person rhythm section is a challenge aptly met by the trios featured here. Still each constitutes the program in a diverse fashion. The American Predicate Trio with reedist Josh Sinton, cellist Christopher Hoffman and drummer Tom Rainey offers a low-key audit of the extended techniques that can be expressed from aggregate pitches and timbres of the three instruments. Just as Sinton sometimes breaks up the tripartite interaction by switching to bass clarinet, the French players on Moby Dick Wanted each uniquely extend their instrumental textures. Fabien Duscombs adds percussion implements to his drum set; bassist Sébastien “Bakus” Bacquias extends his tones with loops; and Marc Démereau plays musical saw (!) as well as baritone saxophone.
The Toulouse-based Fish from Hell (FfH) trio was organized to play as part of the musical spectacle which gives the CD its name. And throughout 10 tracks the players jump from a swing undercurrent to a compendium of pops, buzzes, twangs, ruffs and crunches. Some pieces, such as “La Chasse” are based around near-straight-ahead swing, with Démereau’s fluid cries mixing with a walking bass line and inventive double-stroke drumming. The irregular contours of the narrative are eventually pulled out to a coda of melodic string swipes. In contrast, a track such as “Moby Dick” luxuriates in its unconventional tone extensions from signal-processed beeps and peeps, twanging string scrapes, rattling ratcheting and maracas-like percussion interjections and reed cries that accelerate past penny whistling textures to banshee wails. Reed overblowing split tones and low–pitches share space with tremolo string strums and drum clip-clops with some tracks such as “Les Obsessions d'Achab” becoming so pressurized and sonically violent that when the bassist and drummer hits a modified Rock beat it almost becomes a pleasant respite.
Without visuals no idea of how the live show evolved is possible. But the wild and wooliness expressed surely must have propelled the action. Among the standout expositions which appear to define the FfH identity are pieces like “Rivages Barbares” and the more extended “Deep”, where Démereau’s prowess on musical saw comes into play. A spell-binding eerie timbre assails the former coupled with string-buzzing Metal insinuations. Blustery baritone saxophone honks and chromatic double bass plunks suggest that the currents unleashed on “Deep” can be deadly as well as bottom directed. But a bass solo with sharpened bow thrusts and whining saw cries moderate the theme enough to express connection. Furthermore the brief conclusion confirms that dual expression.
On the other CD, the New York-based trio appears positively traditional. Except that the distinctive blending of pizzicato cello sweeps and lowing and whining from the reed instruments results in an idiosyncratic blend far beyond Sinton’s more tune-oriented combos like Ideal Bread. When Hoffman alternates between plucked string clips and slurry Arco vibrations joins with the understated drum animation of Rainey, the dexterous sequences they output set up anything the reedist can blow. At the same time as a track like “Bell-ell-ell-ell-ells” confirms, the trio doesn’t alter timbres for their own sakes. Rainey’s resonating back beat and the repetition of the tune’s head at its conclusion confirms its Jazz roots. Not adverse to harmonies, three-part and otherwise, the trio’s flexibility and tune linkage is emphasized on a track like “Propulse”. True to the title Sinton spends his time blowing and overblowing patterns at breakneck speed, but the resulting snorts and yelps don’t phase the rhythm section pumps, which would be appropriate as the soundtrack of a TV cop show.
Pacing and harmonies are also important in the evolving track development. Supple overtones resulting from spiccato cello thrusts evolve in double counterpoint with saxophone or bass clarinet textures, no matter how altissimo tones slur or low-pitched ones swell. The nuance and power of the three is fully exhibited on “A Dance” and “Unreliable Mirrors”. Eventual reed smoothness harmonizing with string motifs on “A Dance” are presaged by the pace-setting low-pitches of Hoffman in the introduction. One of the more unconventional narratives, “Unreliable Mirrors” abuts irregularly vibrated drum rolls and cymbal coloration with sul ponticello string strokes to set up coloratura bass clarinet whines and tongue slaps. Following silence in the middle section, the reed exposition is reborn as chalumeau baritone saxophone blowing. With double-stopping cello movement the piece climaxes in splays and strokes that set up a groove even as it exposes sound colors.
Proving that created by the right players a compendium of low pitches can supply as much musical variety as those from a collection of varied pitched instruments are these two sessions. They can pique your senses singly or together.
Track Listing: Predicate: 1. Mersible 2. Bell-ell-ell-ell-ells 3. Taiga 4. A Dance 5. blockblockblock 6. Unreliable Mirrors 7. Propulse 8. Idonal 9. Plumbum.
Personnel: Predicate: Josh Sinton (baritone saxophone and bass clarinet); Christopher Hoffman (cello) and Tom Rainey (drums)
Track Listing: Moby: 1, Océans 2. La Chasse 3. Récifs 4. Rivages Barbares 5. Moby Dick 6. Struggle 7. Le calme avant la Tempête 8. Deep 9. Les Obsessions d'Achab 10. Le Naufrage
Personnel: Moby: Marc Démereau (baritone saxophone and musical saw); Sébastien “Bakus” Bacquias (bass and loops) and Fabien Duscombs (drums and percussion)