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Gerry Hemingway: Kernelings

Glenn Astarita By

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Drummer Gerry Hemingway penned these solo works from 1995-2012 and recorded the album at various points during this timeframe. Essentially, the CD and companion DVD pinpoint his artistic proclivities partly framed in multimedia. It took 15 years to complete the project. The program is divided into four parts: mist, dust, light, and sex, although the CD track list solely denotes the 15 works appearing in sequential order without references to the four topics.

Viewing the film is meant to be an integrative experience with the aural component. For example, on the "Mist" segment, text is displayed trickling into a blue backdrop of the slowly moving water current, featuring Hemingway's shadowy percussion regimen, serving as the soundtrack. Elsewhere, Hemingway is shown tapping and dampening his snare drum via a solo spot commingled with angular photographic effects, visuals and abstracts. This is followed by a conventional solo, providing credence to some of the amazing things he can devise with his five-piece kit. There's also an interview on the DVD, where the artist discusses a need to "expand his tools of expression" with film. As for the music, he launches a series of disparate and rhythmically diverse tone poems amid polytonal treatments with his deployment of live electronics and other percussion implements. He sometimes cast incorporeal sensations into these imaginative pieces.

"B Slow" is enacted with a minimalist vibe, executed with a slow drag beat and poignantly placed rim-shots. And he progresses the metronomic "Steel and Bass" from a simple steel drum and bass drum vamp into a polyrhythmic tour de force. Indeed, Hemingway is passionate about his muse. On "Calling You," he superimposes an old low-fi radio broadcast, weaving around his pungent drumming, yet conveys rustic ambiance on harmonica with "Up on High." During other works, he perhaps unintentionally mimics paranormal-like activity due to his live electronics effects. However, the opening piece titled "Ringo," is apparently an ode to The Beatles" Ringo Starr. He follows suit on a track inspired by the great swing drummer Chick Webb, which is simply titled "For Chick Webb." Here, Hemingway keeps the bass drum pumping, using cross-sticking techniques, sweeping press rolls and altering the flow with multi-part patterns along with some serious, bump-and-grind maneuvers.

For those who have been following the drummer's impressive legacy in progressive and avant-jazz stylizations, you get to see and hear an atypical part of his artistry. His breadth of scope channeled through the viewing glass of art shines throughout this radical reformulation of standard solo drumming fare, amalgamated with his off-center filmography and a penchant for broadening his horizons. (Kernelings is a limited edition release with an initial run of 300 copies, and is solely distributed through Auricle Records.

Track Listing: Ringo; Hymn Away; Dust; May Bell; B Slow; Ohwoshegoshesay; Bluethroat; For Whom; Steel and Bass; Calling You; B Slow Again; Up on High; Snares; For Chick Webb; Slowings.

Personnel: Gerry Hemingway: drum set, percussion, harmonica, voice and/or live electronics.

Title: Kernelings | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Auricle Records

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CD/LP/Track Review
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