Multi-instrumentalists Matt Bauder, Zach Wallace and Aaron Seigel began performing in Ann Arbor in the late 1990s as Memorize The Sky. Their improvisations make their way through several idioms in a natural flow of ideas bonded by their empathy. In bringing that about, they do not sacrifice structure. There is a coherent logic that can leap out of rhythmic flexes or from the warm flow of chamber music harmonies. And then there is the element of surprise, which springs from their instrument and creates unusual patterns.
One of the more structured pieces comes on "Etch of Wood. Bauder takes a contemplative stance shaping the melody on the bass clarinet before creating a deep furrow and adding sinew. Wallace sets his bass to a spacious beat and Siegel adds the lightness of touch on the vibraphone. The presence of a defined melody makes this pleasant to listen to but this does not decry from the more atonal or free improvisations.
"Field of Ice reverberates on the ringing of bells, which are the centrifugal force around which the other elements whirl. The quicksilver notes of the bass and the squiggles and gurgles of the tenor saxophone keep the motifs in a state of flux as sound is parlayed into different trajectories and form.
One of the traits of the band is that it can sound electronic while playing acoustic instruments. This can get pretty intense, as it does on "Raft of Stone. The naturally light flex of the percussion is countered by the tensile intensity of the clarinet. With the drums setting a repetitive pattern the outing becomes edgy. From a conceptual point, though, this works perfectly.
Memorize The Sky has a poetic whimsy when it comes to naming its work. Whimsy, however, takes a back seat to a provocative imagination when it comes to developing a concept.
Track Listing: Raft of Stone; Lake of Light; Etch of Wood; Field of Ice; House of Wind; Cloud of Clay; Brick of Fire; Path of Spider.
Personnel: Matt Bauder: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet and percussion; Zach Wallace: bass, vibraphone and percussion; Aaron Siegel: snare drum, bass drum, vibraphone and percussio.n