Mysterium: An Electric Soundpainting Septet (2009)
This reviewer heard drummer Eric John Eigner's Mysterium project around five years ago, about the same time as picking up on guitarist Adam Cai's Pipe (TrueFalse, 2005). Both these trio releases were thrill-rides that aurally assaulted with an instrumental and compositional mix that leaned heavily on their respective leaders. Their playing field was bounded by a stylistic mélange of free, funk and psychedelia. Since that time Eigner has come up with a bigger roller coaster, make that amusement park, and An Electric Soundpainting Septet joins him with Caine, a three-person horn section, electric bassist James Ilgenfritz and soundpainter Evan Mazunik.
As Eigner explains it, soundpainting is composer Walter Thompson's compositional sign language that structures improvisation; John Zorn's game pieces are brought to mind, but this sounds more organized and yes, even danceable. Eigner continues to draw on multiple stylistic influences and the horn voicings that trombonist Sam Kulik, altoist Jeremy Danneman and tenor man Lorenzo Sanguedolce achieve gives Eigner and Mazunik access to a much wider sound palette. This allows for the delightfully quirky carnival atmosphere of "The Eulipon Dance of the 5,000 L.B. Man," the horn-fest that is "A Tale of the Lotus Eaters" and all manner of funky brews and butt shakers.
At the heart of this release, though, is the phenomenally tight electric bass and drums rhythm section that keeps these tunes moving in a powerfully linear fashion. Eigner and Ilgenfritz make for such a solid foundation that even some of the more esoteric sounds that Caine and the horns conjure up in apparent response to the soundpainter's gestures and each other fit perfectly well into the overall context. Caine's scorching lead ability is much in evidence but he also shows a more lyrical side as he expertly blends and converses with the horns. This is great art with an even greater beat.
Track Listing: Hocus Pocus; 1,000 Little Mutinies; The Eulipion Dance Of The 5,000 Lb. Man; Paddy Whack; A Tale Of The Lotus Eaters; Wile E. Coyote; Tired Ol' Sisyphus; Presto Chango; Harlequin; Damsel.
Personnel: Eric John Eigner: drumset; James Ilgenfritz: electric bass; Adam Caine: electric guitar; Sam Kulik: trombone; Jeremy Danneman: alto/baritone sax Lorenzo Sanguedolce: tenor sax; Evan Mazunik: soundpainter.