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Chris Pitsiokos, Susana Santos Silva, Torbjörn Zetterberg: Child Of Illusion

Don Phipps By

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Selecting a cover illustration of a dark and menacing four-armed lemur, the trio of musicians on the album Child Of Illusion, Chris Pitsiokos (alto sax), Susana Santos Silva (trumpet), and Torbjorn Zetterberg (double bass), signal that this album will pack an unusual musical wallop. And indeed it does, with top level improvisations that explore dynamics and timbres that, to borrow a phrase, shock and awe.

All three offer unique perspectives. Bassist Zetterberg bows like a mosquito, bangs on the body of the bass, and rips and tears and frog bounces down the neck. There's a bit of William Parker in his technique, comprised of looping or rapid-fire bowing and twangy plucking.

On his end, Pitsiokos emphasizes a range of techniques that sound like a combo of Jimmy Lyons, Evan Parker and Anthony Braxton. These include legato phrasing, tongue smacks, the rapid depression of sax keys without notes, the ripping up and down the body of the horn like an out-of-control escalator, rapid tonguing, rotating between the highest notes and lowest notes in the same phrase—leaving one to ponder just how he does it.

The third member of the trio is no less eyebrow raising. Silva trills both quietly and forcefully, follows outbursts with silence, and spins up, down and around. Like Raphe Malik's explorations with the Cecil Taylor Unit, one should expect the unexpected.

On Child Of Illusion, the group collaborates to produce eerie fog horn sounds, howling, electronic hums, disturbing wailing, shrieks that die off, and intense fluid Morse Code urgency. Yet none of it seems random. Instead there is an architecture under-girding the improvisations that's only discernible in its outline, like entering an immense dark hall with bits and pieces exposed as slightly lighter shades of black and dark gray. But, in navigating this edifice, the trio executes back and forth with such abrupt or subtle intensity that the improvisations maintain their spontaneity.

A masterpiece? It's in the bounds of possibility. Certainly there is an electric, sizzling dynamic at play here—as if one, reduced to two dimensions, was tasked with navigating the Mondrian painting "Victory Boogie Woogie" at rapid speed. Child Of Illusion is an ascension up a spiral staircase, and with each step the trio offers a near-boundless variety of musical sound and effect.

Track Listing: Now Then; Yeah Well; Find Nothing; What Now.

Personnel: Chris Pitsiokos: alto saxophone; Susana Santos Silva: trumpet; Torbjörn Zetterberg: double bass.

Title: Child Of Illusion | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

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