Setola di Maiale SM 3550

Crackling electronic interface and acoustic bravura from a quartet of adept improvisers from four different countries enlivens the seven extended selections on Wasteland. If there is a limitation to the high quality sounds it’s that of excess. Editing or removing some of the tracks would have created a tighter focus for the session.

Essentially the creative tension engendered in the program contrasts impulses from the objects, electronics and flutes of Italian composer/educator Rosa Parlato and the electric guitar discursions and objects of France’s Philippe Lenglet, combined as one variable and the 8-string classical guitar and voice of Briton Steve Gibbs and the oboe, hichiriki, sound toys and water (!) of Paulo Chagas as the other,

With contrapuntal parameters established, pressurized interface attains its initial crescendo on “Antebellum”, where a sequence of graduated strokes from highly amplified guitar and subsequent electronic buzzes and shaking oscillations accentuate ocarina-like peeps from Chagas’s instruments melded with sleek flute variables. Although the concluding “Cromeleque over Borobudur” trades protracted silence for percussiveness, replete with echoing thumps, string flanges, whistling toys and unspooling granular synthesis, extended face-offs give the quartet more scope. Interestingly, part of the horns’ throat growling and tongue juddering plus bass-guitar-like thumps and pulsating drones on the penultimate “Claustria” presages what transpires on the final track, But while the overall polyphony is corrosive and creative there’s still space for pastoral flute peeps.

More defining is the almost 16-minute “Motetus”, which plays out the band’s tough-tender interface in miniature. Warbling pastoral flute puffs and Chagas’ swift triple-tongued oboe flutters are stacked up against reflective dual guitar strumming and synthesized drones as Gibb’s vocalizing appears both articulating in an imaginary language and loaded with bestial cries. Mocking oboe and hichiriki popping vibrations confirms a more equitable arrangement as the piece climaxes in an explosion of stop-start whooshes.

Notable for the quartet’s free-flowing expression and cooperation, overall Wasteland presents a prickly but somewhat fuzzy sound picture. It’s a fine second rank effort that on the evidence of the performers’ other recorded work could have been improved.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Cromeleque over Borobudur I 2. Antebellum 3. Motetus 4. Iambe 5. Immersion 6. Claustria 7. Cromeleque over Borobudur

Personnel: Rosa Parlato (flutes, objects, electronics and voice); Paulo Chagas (oboe, hichiriki, sound toys and water); Philippe Lenglet (electric guitar and objects) and Steve Gibbs (8-string classical guitar and voice)