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William Hooker: Channels of Consciousness

John Sharpe By

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On the face of it the title couldn't be more apt, as drummer William Hooker leads his four accomplices through an organically unfurling invention fashioned from their collective streams of consciousness. But a closer listen betrays signs of premeditation, not least in trumpeter Chris DiMeglio's wistful reiterated motif which reappears at regular junctures during the continuous 68-minute performance. Other evidence comes from the presence of an overarching form, as intricate drum and percussion grooves bookend the piece captured live at Roulette in March 2010. That's not a surprise as experience suggests that Hooker marshals his resources to engender a strong sense of structure in whatever he does.

While the first few minutes of "The Unfolding" evince a purposeful intent, as Sanga's percussion thrives in the cracks between the leader's rumbling cadences, it doesn't take long before they are engulfed in a maelstrom of activity. DiMeglio's repeated phrases serve to ratchet up the tension, while guitarist Dave Ross' percussive scratchy lines add another layer of urgent complexity. Not until "Character" does the intensity let up, and some of the best moments ensue, as Ross breaks out a passage of wailing slide guitar, encouraged by Hooker's exhortations to "Talk to me." As with many of the drummer's works, the expression is not solely limited to music. In this instance the liners explain that the piece was inspired by American author Richard Wright's unfinished novel A Father's Law, and the subsequent recitation lands somewhere between poetry and plot summary.

Further light and shade follows in "Three Hexagons," as DiMeglio embarks upon a sequence of aching variations on the sparse thematic material, over a reflective timbral exchange. Bassist Adam Lane comes to the fore early in "Mother's History (untold)" belying a soliloquy of creaking arco atmospherics, before drum rolls signal a gradual ramping up of pressure as they move towards the explosive conclusion. While the passion and energy are unquestioned, some may find the stretches of unremitting power insufficiently differentiated, in which case Hooker's undoubted talents may be easier to appreciate in a more open setting, and in that regard Earth's Orbit (NoBusiness, 2010) by the drummer's Bliss Trio remains pre-eminent.

Track Listing:

Personnel: Adam Lane:bass; Dave Ross: guitar; Chris DiMeglio: trumpet; Sanga: percussion; William Hooker: drums.

Title: Channels of Consciousness | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records

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