175

Vox Arcana: Aerial Age

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
A list of influences including John Cage, Morton Feldman, Terry Riley, La Monte Young and Anthony Braxton is not the norm for a drummer-led ensemble, and gives notice that preconceptions are about to be challenged. These are the diverse inspirations Tim Daisy draws upon in Aerial Age, the sophomore offering from Vox Arcana, his vehicle exploring that ever fertile borderline between composition and improvisation. Best known for fuelling the fires of the Vandermark 5, the drummer remains a cornerstone of the fecund Chicago scene, notable for his timbral ingenuity and crisp drive, and consequently active in countless units of cross fertilization.

Daisy's writing thrives on stark juxtapositions, referencing multiple sources and solutions, often within the same piece. Breathing life into Daisy's arrangements are Vandermark 5 confrere Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello and Allos Documents label boss James Falzone on clarinet, who tackles the written lines with as much diligence as they mine the pockets marked for improvisation. Daisy spends almost as much time at the marimba as behind his stripped down but extended kit. So odd are some of his muffled and tapping textures that there would be considerable merit in a DVD to observe their genesis. Along with the leader's sundry percussive tactics, Lonberg-Holm's chameleon like facility to habituate, whether in the chamber or charnel house, makes for a wildly varied sonic palette. Falzone's mellifluous, pure-toned clarinet plays the straight man, eschewing the extremes, but negotiating switchbacks with poised nonchalance.

Countless episodic shifts negate narrative accounts. Perhaps due to all the abrupt shifts, track demarcations blur and the recital comes to resemble a continuous though fragmented suite. Contained within are some arresting moments, as on "Blue Space," where the romantic mingling of bowed strings and legato clarinet is undercut by the marimba lurching tipsily around the drawing room, or on the closing "Falling," where Falzone's smoky clarinet bestrides an off-kilter swing on the jazziest cut in the program.

Even where the structures are conventional, like the ABA form of "White Lines," the content is anything but: between the heads—which evoke a baroque unison line on speed, itself broken up by percussion interludes—is an improvisational section which rings the changes from exploratory duo to swooping trio to mysteriously clattering drum solo. Winnemac" begins with harsh cello scrapes and electronics, recalling radio interference, before giving way to an almost bluesy clarinet incantation over tumbling percussion, only for the cello and electronic storm to gradually return, sweeping all before it. Ultimately, in spite of the cutup approach, Daisy pulls off a coup in transcending his avowed influences—not by blending them into a whole, but by allowing the clashes to resonate throughout this fine album.

Track Listing: The Number 7; Blue Space; The Silver Fence; Chi Harp Call In E; Winnemac; White Lines; Chaos 1; Falling.

Personnel: James Falzone: clarinet; Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello, electronics; Tim Daisy: percussion, marimba.

Title: Aerial Age | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Allos Documents


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Luz de Luna" CD/LP/Track Review Luz de Luna
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 9, 2017
Read "Blue Light" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Light
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: October 14, 2017
Read "Slight Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Slight Freedom
by Dave Wayne
Published: December 10, 2016
Read "Rising Grace" CD/LP/Track Review Rising Grace
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "Midnight Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Midnight Sun
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 8, 2017
Read "Brain//Child" CD/LP/Track Review Brain//Child
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 24, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.