Günter Christmann/Torsten Müller/LaDonna Smith/Davey Williams: White Earth Streak (2002)
White Earth Streak has something animalistic about it. Perhaps that's due to the bird-like timbre on many of these pieces. Or perhaps it's the persistent jungle atmosphere, with odd, uncategorizable voices coming at unpredictable intervals from all around. Most strikingly, it's the sense that the four players featured on this recording play from a spontaneous inner voice, issuing forth something primal below the level of controlling, rational "human" intellect.
This record was recorded in the early '80s and was released (in part) on two records from the trans museq label: White Earth Streak and Song of an Aeropteryx, both recorded in 1981. Two previously unreleased tracks from 1983 squeeze in between as sandwich meat. Atavistic (via John Corbett) has gathered this music together for its Unheard Music Series, and this disc allows an entrez for listeners unfamiliar with the new music scene of the period from Birmingham, Alabama.
All that said, this music is quite abstract and spontaneousrepresentative of what can only truthfully be called "improvisation" (discarding any obvious jazz element). Of the four players on the record, string player LaDonna Smith makes perhaps the most articulate use of her instruments. Tucked in the nooks and crannies of sound, she builds a coherent train of thought that manages to interact with spontaneous emissions of musical energy from the group, yet still maintain forward momentum and a strong identity. The interactions among members of this group seem quite natural and unforced, at times quite serious and at others loosely humorous. The degree of abstraction on White Earth Streak may make it inpenetrable for many novitiate listenersbut for those with an ear for unfettered free improvisation, the ideas here have a nice resonance.
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Track Listing: Born For Water; The Electrical Front; White Earth Streak; Rainbow Blizzard; Giant Gator Play; What Popeye Really Meant; Static Slide Kisses; Untitled No.1; Untitled No.2; Song of an Aeropteryx, Side 1; Song of an Aeropteryx, Side 2.
Personnel: Günter Christmann: trombone; Torsten Müller: bass; LaDonna Smith: viola, violin, voice; Davey Williams: electric guitar, banjo.