19

Barbacana: Barbacana

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
Barbacana is a UK-based group of interest on a number of levels. Chief among them is the presence of the very busy and talented keyboardist Kit Downes. Along with his namesake progressive jazz trio, Downes has worked in the prestigious company of European greats Django Bates and Julian Arguelles, as well as with American alto legend Lee Konitz. His compositions account for about half of the material on this self-titled debut and demonstrate his multi-genre influences. That said, Barbacana is a very democratic exercise, with multi-reedist—and past Downes collaborator—James Allsopp contributing pieces along with Adrien Dennefeld, who does double duty on guitar and cello.

Barbacana is full of complexity and unusually constructed pieces; two that stress the diversity and intricacy of the music are the opening "Animation" and subsequent "Steam." Respectively beginning with a jumble of saxophone, organ, guitar and some of the "objects" credited to percussionist Sylvain Darrifourcq, the chaos imperceptibly gives way to tranquility. "Steam," on the other hand, begins with a similarly mesmerizing theme before bringing the two-song cycle full circle with its energized conclusion.

Allsopp's somber low register provides a stark contrast to Darrifourcq's march-like beat as "Adobes" opens. The tenor works up to subdued growls and wails before Allsopp supplies a very effective proxy for a bass line. The very brief title track is the first signal of more traditional themes, incorporating a repetitive Latin rhythm into fast-paced improvisation. "For no raisin" begins with Darrifourcq's slow processional beat, joined by Downes' prepared piano and Allsopp's long fluid lines creating an atmosphere of near inertia. The mood is broken by Dennefeld's single-note blues, sharply punctuating the piece. In stylistic contrast, "Migration-Big BIG shop" is a ten-minute blowout, giving these multi-instrumentalists free rein to improvise.

This bass-less quartet features a multitude of instruments in the hands of top-tier musicians. Within individual pieces the effect is narration from different viewpoints and influences. Barbacana features great concepts and original ideas throughout. Where conventional structures are present, they rarely rely on traditional patterns and the result is that even the most melodic pieces in the collection are bristling with energy. Barbacana is an engaging and entertaining program of avant- garde music; sometimes beautiful, sometimes tenacious and always full of life.

Track Listing: Animation; Steam; Adobes; Barbacana; For no raisin; Migration-Big BIG shop; Outro.

Personnel: James Allsopp: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Sylvain Darrifourcq: drums, objects, toys; Adrien Dennefeld: guitar, cello; Kit Downes: organ, keyboard, prepared piano.

Title: Barbacana | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Babel Label


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Viriditas" CD/LP/Track Review Viriditas
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 24, 2017
Read "Honey And Salt" CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "Soul Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Soul Trio
by Anthony Shaw
Published: August 24, 2017
Read "Telepathy & Bop" CD/LP/Track Review Telepathy & Bop
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 5, 2017
Read "Chasing the Unicorn" CD/LP/Track Review Chasing the Unicorn
by Paul Rauch
Published: September 6, 2017
Read "Unit[e]" CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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