Paul Rutherford: Iskra3 (2005)

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Paul Rutherford: Iskra3
"The music on this CD is rich and concentrated; it is not necessarily intended that it all be heard in one listening. We suggest that you take a break between Acts 1 and 2.

Phew! When was the last time you came across something like that on an album? (Other than a parental warning about unsuitable lyrics.) It's a health warning: take it easy, lest this music prove too much to take all at once.

But does it live up to that buildup? Well, yes, it certainly lives up to the promise that the music is rich and concentrated. Lawrence Casserley and Robert Jarvis have taken Rutherford's playing—full of all his usual beautiful tones and voicings—and used electrickery (aka "live computer processing ) to multilayer him with himself, to stretch and shift his playing as if it were drawn on rubber sheeting. Or at least that is my interpretation based on evidence from my ears. "Rich and concentrated is an apt description; the electronics distil Rutherford's playing down to its very essence.

On receiving the disc, I wondered why this Paul Rutherford release was on Psi, rather than on Emanem, like his other recent works. One listen convinced me this was a bit different. I was most reminded of another Psi release, a similar set of manipulations (of Evan Parker's own playing) by Joel Ryan on Or Air. As on that record, the source material is occasionally rendered unrecognisable by electronic alterations of its tone and pitch, so that it becomes just one electronic sound in a flurry of component parts. Such moments are rare, though; at its best, the end result is an electronic concerto with Rutherford as its soloist. "Brelfor," which opens Act 2, demonstrates this to perfection. Rutherford is never subsumed by the electronics, but he seems surrounded by them in an alien environment.

The good news is that I have survived the maelstrom, health unimpaired, able to report on its contents. But on balance I would agree with the sentiment that this music is best taken in small doses; it's potent stuff.

Track Listing: Act 1: Zenquahn; Ombuhl; Bodrivar; Falgoric. Act 2: Brelfor; Felcrum; Mayilcra

Personnel: Paul Rutherford, trombone; Robert Jarvis, Lawrence Casserley, live computer processing.

Record Label: Psi

Style: Modern Jazz


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