Lily Maase: Aftermath (2005)
If the releases from the Between the Lines label fall at the classical/composed end of the jazz continuum, then Aftermath belongs in the fusion/experimental corner of the jazz universe. Its rhythms are closer to rock than jazz; the keyboards are electric, as is the bass; and the general vibe goes beyond solo improvising in front of the rest of the band. Labels can be misleading, of course, but one has to start somewhere.
The LM5 would absolutely mesmerize a live audience with this unique music. Even if Maase isn't the mistress of guitar chops (at least on this record), her originality of conception is engrossing in the way the music ebbs and flows to create an overall sound. If you can let yourself be taken away by this music, it might just transport you to another universe (maybe that of Philip K. Dick; see below). As Kali Fasteau once counseled me, "Turn the lights down, turn the volume up, and see how the music makes you feel.
If you visit Maase's web site (using the password Nexus 6), you can find the full program notes and detailed explanations of the impulses and concepts, autobiographical and otherwise, behind this music. It must be emphasized, however, that knowing these details is not necessary to enjoy this music, which is strong enough to stand on its own.
The first four tracks, grouped as "The Aftermath Series, comprise an autobiography. Each is surrounded by an electronic sound loop from which the music emerges and into which it disappears. "My Five Wives is characterized by a heavy bass vamp and features some good lines by trumpeter Mike Maher. "Even Ash Will Linger is plaintive and full of melancholy, ending with a processed guitar line that sinks into the electronica, only to shift gears entirely with the driving "...In Threes..., where Maase plays the most guitar thus far, contrasted with a calmer middle section using keyboards. "A Body in Motion ... (self portrait) has many different sections which are tied together by an audible harmony or tonal center.
The last three tracks form the suite "Lullabye for the Electronic Shepherd (sounds for Philip K. Dick), but again, you do not have to have read any of Dick's science fiction to get into the music. Mulholland's chops on bass are featured on "How much for the Electric Ostrich ; "Nexus 6 revolves around a guitar line where the note groups clash with the meter; and "Baty's Last Stand is built from a poignant, simple theme.
In the end, all the description in the world can sometimes be meaningless. Maase uses all the instruments here to create her unique sound, creating and releasing tension; you just have to listen for yourself. Aftermath is a superior effort by a very talented composer.
Track Listing: The Aftermath Series: My Five Wives; Even Ash Will Linger; ... In Threes ...; A Body In Motion... (self portrait); Lullabye for the Electric Shepherd (sounds for Philip K. Dick): How Much for the Electric Ostrich?; Nexus 6; Baty's Last Stand.
Personnel: Lily Maase, guitar, electronics; Mike Maher, trumpet; Brian Mulholland, electric bass; Curt Garey, drums; Nick Groesch, keyboards (1-4); Jangeun Bae, keyboards (5-7)
Record Label: Self Produced