Bassist Bruno Raberg returns with three-quarters of the quartet from last year's acclaimed Hot Box(Orbis Music, 2015). This outing was based on free improvisations (with extensive electronic sound design by Råberg)it could be seen as an extension of the two collective improvisations on the previous album. No drums this time, just trumpeter Phil Grenadier, saxophonist Allan Chase (playing soprano, alto and baritone saxophones), and the leader's acoustic bass. It is still common to present improvisation sessions in full (or slightly edited), which is a valid form of recorded documentation. Here the four 2012 recording sessions have been edited down to 19 tracks (many of them under three minutes long, with the longest just topping six minutes), for a total of 45 minutes.
Råberg's sleeve note describes the process: "All the music on this recording is based on free improvisation a.k.a. real time composition. Some of the tracks have undergone extensive electronic sound design and reordering of musical events." It would be interesting to hear the sessions in full for comparison, but what we have is clearly a greatly distilled presentation of the hours of music that must have gone into it. The opener "Island Contours" sounds like a beginning, long tones from the horns over a steady bass (although with some delay on the horns here and there for spice). "Metallic Ocean" presents a brass duet dominated by quiet organic breath noises and key taps. It leads into "Time Painting Backwards" the longest track, and probably the one that sounds most like one of the sessions: just the trio reacting to each other, with no electronic processing.
There's nothing predictable about the editing and processing choices. Even the solo tracks vary between being truly solo and having an ensemble effect created after the fact. Råberg does have a special fondness for trumpet with electronic delay. "Big Sur Calling" is a Grenadier "solo" trumpet piece with looping and delay employed to craft a trumpet ensemble. "Sand Clock Revisited" similarly plays multiple trumpets against an ostinato from bass and baritone sax. Two of Chase's "solo" saxophone tracks are duets, featuring baritone and alto, while "Flurries" creates a dense texture using delay. The closing "Lullabye for the Unknown" returns to the sound of the opener, but this time the horns play gentle melodies with delay over a steady bass.
A fitting end to a collection of music that is never less than compelling There's magic in the group interaction and in Råberg's sound design, and no clear line between the two.
Island Contours; Elastic Quadruple; Metallic Ocean; Time Painting Backwards; Peace Agreement; Sculpture VI; Big Sur Calling; Miro's February; Questionable Premise; Transformational Ghee; Sculpture VII; Sand Clock Revisited; Flurries; Tincture Bell, Pt. I; Tincture Bell, Pt. II; Grater Bubbles; Sculpture VIII; Equuleus; Lullaby for the Unknown.
Bruno Råberg: acoustic bass; Phil Grenadier: trumpet; Allan Chase: soprano, alto & baritone saxophones.