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Seth Andrew Davis, Michael Eaton, Kyle Quass and Damon Smith: Ghost Tantras

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Seth Andrew Davis, Michael Eaton, Kyle Quass and Damon Smith: Ghost Tantras
In 2020, saxophonist Michael Eaton and electronic improviser & guitarist Seth Andrew Davis together formed Mother Brain Records, designed to highlight some of the more experimental music coming out of the Midwest. The label has headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri but, if Ghost Tantras is any indication, we will not be hearing much that connects directly to that city's roots in early jazz. Those craving new avenues for adventurous free improvisation will find much to like, however.

Combining their talents with bassist Damon Smith and trumpeter Kyle Quass, Eaton and Davis give full rein to their most freewheeling impulses here, appropriate enough given the album's inspiration in the poetry of maverick Beat writer Michael McClure. With tracks bearing titles such as "Ooogreeshk," "Gritooorm," and "Hrahhhrr-Nohh," the music is clearly indebted to McClure's efforts to find idiosyncratic pathways to unconventional expression. Davis' role in this regard is unmistakable, as he brings a jumble of electronic sounds which often challenge the other musicians—and the listener—through unsettling juxtapositions and aggressive gestures. This is especially characteristic of "Snahrr," a twenty-minute piece in which Davis plays the role of provocateur, disrupting the others' ability to pursue more temperate pathways by consistently prodding them with a range of acerbic interjections. It has a striking effect, even if it does become somewhat fatiguing over the piece's lengthy duration. "Aieooo" takes a similar approach, with Davis' bleeps, blips and other assorted electronic shards creating a startling cacophony with which to discomfit the more languid locutions of the other three.

Elsewhere Davis employs electric guitar and these tracks offer a bit more coherence, as his contributions do more to complement the others rather than antagonize them. Smith is a remarkably versatile bassist, with his own substantial arsenal of distinctive timbres and techniques; when he gets room to work, as at the opening of "Gritooorm," his compelling confluence with Davis' reverb-inflected musings sets the stage for Eaton and Quass to join in with their own thoughtful dialogue. "Whahh" may be even better, with Eaton and Quass verging almost lyrically towards a common destination, and Smith and Davis reveling in the opportunity to find a moment or two of tranquil beauty amidst the consistently bracing music on Ghost Tantras.

Track Listing

Ooogreeshk; Snahrr; Gritooorm; Whahh; Raooor; Aieooo; Hrahhhrr-Nohh; Yahoo.

Personnel

Michael Eaton
saxophone, tenor
Damon Smith
bass, acoustic
Kyle Quass
trumpet
Additional Instrumentation

Seth Andrew Davis: laptop and electronics; Michael Eaton: soprano saxophone.

Album information

Title: Ghost Tantras | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Mother Brain Records


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