Silver Ash: Silver Ash (2011)
Brooklyn, NY-based drummer Jeff Arnal also runs Generate Records, a label steeped in a vastly experimental paradigm, featuring works by pianist Gordon Beeferman, reedman John Dierker, and a host of well-known improvisers. During the past few years, Arnal has been issuing 7" LPs which, in most instances, yield a classic analogue spectrum, enhancing the organic or electro-organic soundstage and enriching or perpetuating a three-dimensional listening space.
Long considered one of the premier free jazz and improvising drummers, Arnal always rises to the occasion, regardless of format, or a given band's mode of operation. On Silver Ash, the trio navigates through a largely electronics-centered and playfully psychotic panorama. On "Deathless," Arnal's rumbling drums offer a wide-open platform, enveloped by a clean and reverberating analogue sound, accelerated by Aaron Dugan's schizoid and spaced-out guitar lines amid Casey Block's sprawling electronics treatments. Loose comparisons to some of French space-rock pioneer Richard Pinhas' avant tendencies may surface, as the trio perpetuates a fluid wall-of-sound, while traversing the limitless expanse of the universe.
"Lifeboat" resides within an uncanny region where progressive rock and Afro-blues elements attain logical alignment. Here, the musicians engage in noise-shaping exercises atop Arnal's offbeat pulses, amid a doomsday mindset, resulting in catastrophic circumstances. With booming patterns, small percussion shadings, and nightmarish inferences, the music conjures up notions of a harrowing dream, where life is hanging by a thread.
In some respects, the 7" LP format can allude to a teaser, due to technological time constraints. But it's all about quality and not quantity, especially when many artists seem intent on maxing out the space provided on CDs with less than stellar material. Regardless, Silver Ash is a band that makes its mark in rather prolific fashion.
Track Listing: Deathless; Lifeboat.
Personnel: Aaron Dugan: guitar; Casey Block: electronics; Jeff Arnal: percussion.
Record Label: Generate Records