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Various Artists: La Casa Murada MoonJune Sessions, Volume 1

Mark Sullivan By

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Magic seems to happen routinely at Spain's La Casa Murada Residential Recording Studio, a converted 12th century farmhouse, at least during the MoonJune Records recording sessions. For listeners who have not been following the label's releases, this generous 80-minute sampler offers a delightful overview. For those who have, it includes one track released in advance of Serbian guitarist Dusan Jevtovic's forthcoming 2019 album If You See Me.

The MoonJune musical family frequently operates as a kind of repertory company, with musicians playing on each other's sessions. British guitarist Mark Wingfield is one of the most recorded, and his "I Wonder How Many Miles I've Fallen" from Tales From The Dreaming City (2018) kicks off the sampler in grand style. It highlights Wingfield's strangled whammy-assisted guitar sound and soundscaping, as well as Yaron Stavi's fretless bass and Asaf Sirkis' drums.

This potent trio appears again on "Fjords de Catalunya" from The Stone House (2017), joined by touch guitarist Markus Reuter. This is one of two completely improvised tracks, the other being "Zinc" from Lighthouse (2017), with the Wignfield/Reuter/Sirkis trio. Both albums are remarkable for the high level of invention throughout: one would never know there was no composed music in the mix.

"Yo Sin Mi" introduces Jevtovic's guitar, another recurring voice. His playing is a bit more conventional (although sometimes also employing electronics), and he is an especially lyrical composer. He is heard here on three of his own sessions, as well as two collaborations with Spanish drummer Xavier Reija.

Indonesian pianist/composer Dwiki Dharmawan contributes "Rumah Batu Suite," the longest track at over 26 minutes. It demonstrates the stylistic range of the label, all in one place. Moving from traditional singing and flute to acoustic jazz featuring piano and Stavi's upright bass, it eventually builds to a duel between Dharmawan and Vietnamese guitarist Nguyen Le's fusion acrobatics. The conclusion is a gentle affair featuring the leader's lyrical piano. Amazingly, the track was fully improvised (based on Dwiki's 2011 recording) without the musicians discussing anything, and without anything added later.

These sessions all feature exceptional musicians at the top of their game, encouraged to fully express themselves in a recording studio with a unique atmosphere. All the featured albums are recommended, as is this compilation.

Track Listing: I Wonder How Many Miles I've Fallen; Zinc; Yo Sin Mi; Rumah Batu Suite; Decaying Sky; Am I Walking Wrong?; Macroscope; Fjords de Catalunya; Babe.

Personnel: Mark Wingfield: guitar; Yaron Stavi: bass guitar, upright bass; Asaf Sirkis: drums; Markus Reuter: touch guitar; Dusan Jevtovic: guitar; Vasil Hadzimanov: acoustic piano; Dwiki Dharmawan: acoustic piano; Nguyên Lê: guitar; Carles Benavent: bass guitar; Samiet: vocals, LaLove traditional Sulawesi flute; Xavi Reija: drums; Bernat Hernandez: bass guitar; Marko Djordjevic: drums; Gary Husband: drums.

Title: La Casa Murada MoonJune Sessions, Volume 1 | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: MoonJune Records

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