The fifth release of the Canadian quartet Peripheral Vision, the stimulating double album Irrational Revelation & Mutual Humiliation crystalizes the band's creative vision of over a decade into 14 captivating originals. Composers Michael Herring on bass and Don Scott on guitar contributed all the tracks that range from the personal to the socially conscious with a definite abstract and spiritual trait running throughout the intriguing music.
A language-barrier problem inspired Scott's whimsical "Schleudern." Opening with drummer Nick Fraser's forlorn sparse beats the group's angular refrains evolve into an eloquent duet between Fraser and saxophonist Trevor Hogg. Hogg blows warm, resonant and serpentine lines which flirt with dissonance, as Fraser contributes hypnotic thuds to the conversation. Guest vibraphonist Michael Davidson contributes darkly-hued chimes as Scott's tense guitar echoes against Hogg's muscular tenor. Herring anchors the piece with his agile, reverberating strings.
Herring's own "Hanging In, Hanging On, Hanging Out," a paean to resilience during difficult times, is a boppish piece which features taut ensemble vamps. Scott's improvisation intelligently builds on the main theme with lithe elegance and virtuosity. Hogg embellishes the melody with breathy and meandering phrases. Keyboardist Chris Pruden and multi-instrumentalist Jean Martin add a level of angst to the backdrop with their synths.
Herring's magnificent and moving three part "Reconciliation Suite" is the centerpiece of the first volume. Dedicated to recognition and remedy of the injustices done to Canada's indigenous population, the work starts with a somber collective performance. The dissonant repartee among all four, with Herring using his bow, evolves wistfully over an electrified soundscape. Fiery wails and ominous chords construct a dramatic ambience peppered with aborginal folk motifs. The provocative conclusion is equal parts celebration and fury that burns away the composition's inner melancholy.
Herring's contemplative "Kopfkino," meanwhile, is an exploration of meditative serenity. Over Fraser's brushes and rustles, Herring solos with yearning lyricism and introspective poetry. Pruden's eerie Prophet 6 adds an ethereal quality to the tune as Scott and Hogg muse in paired, stream of consciousness, extemporizations. In contrast "Man vs. Zafu" is made up of crisp, soulful exchanges that are buoyed by Davidson's mallets and organist Craig Harley swaggering electric tones. Scott takes center stage with an erudite, blues tinged soliloquy which fades into the otherworldly sounds of the closing bars with quiet grace.
The brilliant two-disc set showcases the artists' superb and multifaceted musicianship. Moreover, its conceptual unity, despite the variety of inspirational sources as well as the inner synergy of the group, makes for an absorbing and enjoyable listening experience. Irrational Revelation & Mutual Humiliation is arguably Peripheral Vision's best recording to date.
CD 1: Whistle Up A Rope; Hanging In, Hanging On, Hanging Out; Reconciliation Suite; For Kent Monkman; The
Who Can't Do Math; Brooklyn's Bearded; Man Vs Zafu. CD 2: Title Crisis; Kopfkino; S N A Kee SSS; Neo-
For Pacifists; N12; Schleudern; Mutual Humiliation Society.