For over a quarter of a century, Susan Rawcliffe has designed and played ceramic flutes and other instruments. Many are based on studies of instruments played by pre-Hispanic cultures like the Aztec, Mayan, Zapotec, and Olmec, and after making and mastering them, Rawcliffe then adds creative redesigns to invent her own playable sculptures. She lectured at the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum, and has exhibited nationally. Her trio, Many Axes, uses her instruments and various ethnic instruments to freely improvise a music unlike any other. Many of the flutes duplicate ritual instruments not heard in over a thousand years. Their explorations part the mists of time for a glimpse of music as mystery play.
Joining Rawcliffe, Scott Wilkinson brings a wide experience with wind instruments, and ubiquitous drummer/sound engineer Brad Dutz covers the percussion (and of course, mixed the tracks with Wilkinson). With low, portentous drum tones, deep flute, and a tonelessly blown flute, "March of the Whales'" opens the CD with a near-ceremonial invocation. An acoustic anomaly with gongs creates electronic style sounds for the flutists to blow through on "Circuspace." The flutes fall into interlaced patterns with a steady drum, before reclaiming chaos.
With the flutes playing rising long tones, Dutz flies on a marimba on "Pillbug's Nightmare." A grievous pun, "Drama Dairy," titles a track with Dutz's hand drum creating a caravan ambiance, the flutes improvising exotic minors. The longest track, "Entropy," weaves texture with long tones on the clay trumpets, gloriously droning.
"Roll Over Johann" returns to the desert, this time a more heated dance driven by Dutz' hand drumming. One flute spins an exotic melody, the other barks and blows. The appropriately heavy "Mastadon Stew," uses didgeridoo-deep bass winds and Dutz' rhythm to conjure the Mammoth. The sounds of wind and extended techniques build "Unheard Melodies."
A pastiche of gongs, drums, and haunting flutes result in the evocative "Buried There." Temple bells wake the listener from the dreaminess to open "Dali Comma." Dutz' xylophone dances whimsically between flutes and droning gongs. Burbling sounds cycle through "Puddle" with stormy rumbles. Percussive tones on flutes precede a call-and-response interlude that imitates birdsong. "Anti Carlos" has two flutes sparring with Dutz working a rhythm with pot and pan drums.
Long on atmosphere and new sounds, Many Axes uses ancient forms to hearken atavistic responses from the primeval interiors.
Track Listing: March of the Whales; Circuspace; Pillbug
Personnel: : Brad Dutz, percussion; Susan Rawcliffe,ceramic flutes; Scott Wilkinson, winds.
Title: 2 Many Axes
| Year Released: 2005
| Record Label: pfMentum