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Aram Shelton & Håkon Berre: Dormancy

Glenn Astarita By

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San Francisco Bay Area resident, alto saxophonist Aram Shelton and Norwegian drummer/percussionist Håkon Berre recorded this dynamic session in a studio outside of Copenhagen. Each musician is highly respected in their home turf and beyond, although Shelton has led bands and collaborated with the crème de la crème of fearless improvising risk-takers in the US since the 1990s. On this venture, the duo conveys a synchronous relationship as they challenge, mimic and push each other throughout these largely jolting improvisations.

Indeed, Berre is a resourceful percussionist. His rolling toms patterns, staggered single shot hits and use of small implements generate a broadly moving framework for Shelton. The album is not defined with rigid structural components, but it's easy to discern when and how the artists get from point A to point B due to a common language, bridging minimalism with intensifying climactic choruses. Moreover, the saxophonist employs extended techniques along with whirling dervish-like flurries on "Light, "where Berre uses shakers, objects, cymbals and imparts noisy inflections, prompting notions of an off-centered tribal ritual.

A good portion of the vibrant dialogues are spur-of-the-moment, whether the mood is tempered or when they knock it out of the park. On "Embryo," Shelton throws everything into overdrive with a blistering attack, augmented by Berre's broiling movements, intimating a chemical reaction that swiftly disrupts molecular particles. However, "Seedling" is an inward-looking soundscape, complete with the saxophonist's gruff tones and the drummer's creaky cymbal treatments, leading to a scrappy, low-key etude.

Shelton's simultaneous release with Norwegian drummer Ole Mofjell, Uncovered (Singlespeed, 2018) follows a trajectory similar to that of Dormancy. On both sessions, the musicians push the envelope to the outer regions of scope and sound, equating to productive investigational encounters firmly situated outside the norm.

Track Listing: New Growth; Light; Water; Respiration; Mobilization; Embryo; Seedling; Flowering.

Personnel: Aram Shelton: alto saxophone; Håkon Berre: percussion.

Title: Dormancy | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Singlespeed Music


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