How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Opeye's 1995 recording Moss 'Comes Silk is about the most open-ended free improvisation project one could imagine. The instrumentation is truly global; the playing obeys no fixed parameters or arrangement. In such a setting, one might predict the onset of disorganization and/or the crushing void of chaos. But the players in Henry Kuntz's band Opeye demonstrate a keen sensitivity to each other's playing, allowing the group to keep moving forward as a whole. Collective improvisation is often two steps ahead of noise, but as long as it maintains even the most abstract coherence, it can avoid the abyss. (Besides, a little noise never hurt anyone, did it?) Musical evolution on Moss 'Comes Silk comes about via a relative mechanism instead of anything absolute: unpredictability is the fertile soil in which this music grows.
"Abstract" is perhaps the most apt word to describe Moss 'Comes Silk. While the subtitle suggests some sort of repetitious, ostinato, groove-laden material best absorbed in an intoxicated state, the reality is exactly the opposite. The emotional range on Moss 'Comes Silk spans whispering contemplation to screeching explosion, usually simmering somewhere just short of overt tension. Saxophone, trumpet, or string-based instrumental leads serve as a foreground to a dense web of multiphonic accompaniment. The musicians use extended techniques to convert melody into percussion (and vice versa), often transforming open tones into voice-like cries. While the overall effect can at times be overwhelming, the best way to overcome this hurdle is to suspend one's expectations. Listeners who prefer concrete order to overt abstraction should look elsewherebut those curious about experimental integration of 'world music' instrumentation with free jazz might just find this disc a rewarding experience.
Track Listing: Brilliant Coral; Tepees and Dragons; Fancy Dancing Jaguar; Polyphonic Hymn; Eskimos on the Moon; Bayou Eskimos; Real Southern Hominy; Saffron and Jasmine; Noble Guardians; Ol'Spi'Ritual; Sentient Beings; Moss 'Comes Silk.
Personnel: Henry Kuntz: tenor saxophone, Chinese musette, bamboo flutes, violins, Javanese gamelan, percussion; Ben Lindgren: bass, Javanese gamelan; Brian Godchaux: viola, Balinese gamelan, percussion; Esten Lindgren: trombone, trumpets, voice, guitar, ukelele, percussion; John Kuntz: guitar, mandolin, ukelele, Javanese gamelan, wind-up toy xylophone, percussion.