Wadada Leo Smith: Snakish (2005)
Of all the avant-garde players from his generation, Wadada Leo Smith easily ranks among the most insightful collaborators with electronic musicians. His willingness to include electrified lexicon in his musical language now yields Snakish, a surprising soundscape created with a band culled from the Cal/Arts faculty, including guitarist Miroslav Tadic and electrician Walter Quintus, as well as vocliast Katya Quintus and Mark Nauseef on percussion and electronics. The guitar, trumpet, and percussion juxtapose the electronic environments to create rainbows of color and textures, leading down surprising avenues of 21st Century music. As with much of Smith's work, space and silence share in importance with sounds generated.
The fourteen concise aural haiku begin with the dreamy "Uncoiling, which features Smith muted and musing with Tadic's understated guitar in a shimmering soundscape. Quintus quietly recites (in German?) as sparks rise. Nauseef's bell awakens "Cosmoil, Tadic runs muted strings through electro mist and processed Smith flares. The short atmospheric "Disembodyism gives way to "Over the Influence, with its ghostly train sounds and Smith's pointed declarations. "Yopo also begins with a bell, and Smith plays carefully chosen notes over the frothy hum around him.
Black Bell Mother utilizes many bells and gongs; Tadic contributes muted sound from a his prepared guitar. Tadic and Smith quietly converse on "Majounish, while "Kawami Wama sounds cinematic behind the recitation. Jagged electronics scrape Smith's blunted horn then overgrow the garden. A sputtering electro raspberry introduces Tadic's guitar on "Speeds Per Coil, Smith's warm sparse phrases a safe place in roaring whoosh. Smith bites into low gritty growly notes on "Neither Liquid Nor Gaseous, Torn among singing bowls, undermixed prepared guitar, and vining cloudy sound.
Opening with sounds like a Martian gamelan, "Green Gold Melt grows spidery with slide guitar and Smith's smoky long tones curling upward. The solo electronic satellite song "Gangah Wallah leads into the moody "Rivers of Swans. Sweet small prepared guitar chords join Smith's muted playing over shifting tectonic plates. A searching trumpet and prepared guitar poke through the kilowatt wind on "Coiling.
With Quintus' ambient sounds crackling and rushing around them, Wadada Leo Smith and the Snakish band have tapped into the music of wonder.
Track Listing: Uncoiling; Cosmoil; Disembodyism; Over the Influence; Yopa; Black Bell Mother; Majounish; Kawami Wama; Speeds Per Coil; Neither Liquid Nor Gaseous, Torn; Green Gold Melt; Gangah Wallah; Rivers of Swan; Coiling.
Personnel: Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet; Walter Quintus: computer, processing; Miroslav Tadic: acoustic and baritone guitars; Katya Quintus: vocals; Mark Nauseef: percussion and live electronics.