Blink: The Epidemic of Ideas (2008)
Force fields emanate from and pour back into a source. This dynamic creates a self-generating system. When a group of musicians conglomerate, each playing a different instrument, each intent on developing a specific sound idea, but all beginning from a center, their dynamic is a self-generating system similar to the way force fields work. Blink embodies the boldness to self-generate, The Epidemic of Ideas its recorded results.
The minute-long first track, appropriately titled "Sum," is an overture for how each instrument will proceed. The growth of the recording comes in how each instrument subsequently reaches out to the other, how they combine to eventually expand into a huge sound ("Secret Weapon pt 1)." Each cut seems to establish a step to an apotheosis ("Rivers and Tides," "Glass"), measuring the breadth of each instrument's capacity to be itself.
The alto saxophone carries the reins for much of the album in carefully appointed single tones ("Rivers and Tides"). The guitar follows closely behind, counteracting the sax line or melding with it ("Rivers and Tides," "I Am"). The bass and guitar connect to reinforce tones that seem scattered but which are really shunted to a specific place. The bass clearly controls the spine-full undertones("Rivers and Tides," "I Am," "Underground Games"), while the drums are struck fervently into drawing together the instruments and keeping them within the same channel. Sometimes, the whole group unites in a march-like forwardness ("Rivers and Tides," "Glass," "I Am") that takes over the sense of time.
The instrumentality shifts gears a bit when the concept of the whole finds a resting place in the details of a variety of new and playful sounds ("Sources," "Displacement," "Glass," "I Am," "Misadventures") that reset the group's direction. It is notable how the acoustic instruments lean into an electronic tendency. Questions can be raised about what is electronic and what is not, given the tempo or the intercession of one instrument with another, particularly with regards to the use of percussion ("Glass""). The guitar seems to be the only electric device and its sound pushes the climb towards a summit where the musical heights of this recording are realized ("Glass"). The guitar also explores territory that upends the idea that it is a string instrument ("I Am").
The recording has a shape. The music is coherent and small at the beginning, and expands and contracts throughout the recording's progression, reaching ostensible finales. But the instruments retreat and regain their separateness only to then reinvest themselves through a ceaselessly melodic sound; they put themselves into another constrained space that has the same potential of opening up to the skies. On the closing and appropriately titled "We Disappear," the guitar brings the group home, producing a quiet resonance that is nothing less than healing.
Track Listing: Sum; Secret Weapon, pt.1; Rivers and Tides; Sources; Displacement; Secret Weapon, pt.2; Glass; I Am; Underground Games; Three Illustrations; Misadventures; We Disappear.
Personnel: Jeff Greene: acoustic and electric basses, samples, harmonium; Quin Kirchner: drums, cymbals, percussion, glockenspiel; Dave Miller: electric guitar, sound effects; Greg Ward: alto sax.