Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

276

Moraine: Manifest DeNsity

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
The place where chamber music meets the intensity and attitude of rock music has been explored, in recent years, by groups including Canada's Bell Orchestre and US-based Clogs. Add to that list Moraine, a Seattle-based quintet that, with its unorthodox line-up of violin, cello, electric guitar, bass, and drums, has plenty of attitude—and energy. This ain't your father's Ekseption, turning classical repertoire into high octane, progressive rock; this is original music touching on wealth of markers including, with guitarist Dennis Rea's clean/slap-echoed guitar, hints of surf rock. It's also, with cellist Ruth Davidson and violinist Alicia Allen, progressive contrapuntal music that, with its repetitive patterns, references minimalist composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich, but from a greater distance. But that's only two aspects of the rich and surprisingly varied Manifest DeNsity.



Less doom-and-gloom than symphonic downers Anekdoten, Moraine still occupies some of the same turf on the grungy, crunching "Kuru," with Rea's jaggedly distorted guitar and drummer Jay Jaskit's thundering drums. Without the mellotron that so defines the Swedish goth-prog band's sound, Manifest DeNsity's overall texture is, well, less dense, but the interlocking parts that periodically coalesce into a brief, head-banging theme lend a deeper complexity, making this set of 11 originals curiously compelling. There's some soloing, too, making Moraine an improvising band of no small worth, though spotlights are always brief, and tightly integrated within the group's highly structured arrangements.



Davidson's "Revenge Grandmother" begins in introspective fugue territory with its violin/cello duet, but morphs into a darker groove, where Jaskit's mallet-driven drums act as a primal, tribal force. Still, the rapidly shifting, episodic nature of the tune—a defining characteristic of the entire album, where only one song approaches the seven-minute mark and most are under five—makes it a journey that feels much longer than it is. Hints of early Henry Cow RIO cohabitate with Red-era King Crimson but, despite a predilection for the raucous, there's a quirky, idiosyncratic quality that, especially on Rea's knotty "Staggerin,'" references fellow Pacific Northwester, guitarist Bill Frisell's more oblique 1990s work with Kermit Driscoll and Joey Baron. The track even swings a little, with bassist Kevin Millard layering a walking bass line underneath Davidson's surprisingly oblique solo, and Rea's close, sophisticated voicings.



It's not the only hint of jazz to imbue Manifest DeNsity, with Rea's "Nacho Sunset" containing more than a touch of 1970s-era Jean-Luc Ponty; still, it's the guitarist's boxy, overdriven sound that largely dominates that track, as he demonstrates an ability to navigate the changes that's mirrored by Allen, whose inventive solo combines lithe linear phrases with unanticipated harmonies.



As artists lean increasingly towards eclecticism and stylistic cross-pollination, it's becoming more and more difficult to define the space a group occupies. But with its combination of rock energy, chamber classicism, and sophisticated jazz harmonies, Manifest DeNsity is simply good music—at times, great music—played by an unusually configured collective. Like a square peg and a round hole, Moraine defies reductionist categorization, other than pinpointing its general position along the broader musical continuum.


Track Listing: Save the Breeding Grounds; Ephebus Amoebus; Nacho Sunset; $9 Pay-per-View Lifetime TV Movie; Manifest Destiny; Uncle Tang's Cabinet of Dr. Caligari; Disillusioned Avatar; Kuru; Revenge Grandmother; Staggerin'; Middlebräu.

Personnel: Alicia Allen: violin; Ruth Davidson: cello; Jay Jaskit: drums; Kevin Millard: bass, baliset; Dennis Rea: guitar.

Title: Manifest Density | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Moonjune Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Metamorphic Rock

Metamorphic Rock

MoonJune Records
2012

buy
 

Metamorphic Rock

MoonJune Records
2011

buy
Manifest Density

Manifest Density

MoonJune Records
2009

buy

Related Articles

Read Everything's OK CD/LP/Track Review
Everything's OK
by Doug Collette
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Making Bones, Taking Draughts, Bearing Unstable Millstones Pridefully, Idiotically, Prosaically CD/LP/Track Review
Making Bones, Taking Draughts, Bearing Unstable Millstones...
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Legacy CD/LP/Track Review
Legacy
by Doug Collette
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Other Life Forms CD/LP/Track Review
Other Life Forms
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Live At Moods CD/LP/Track Review
Live At Moods
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Runner in the Rain CD/LP/Track Review
Runner in the Rain
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 15, 2018
Read "That's Right!" CD/LP/Track Review That's Right!
by Jim Trageser
Published: October 29, 2018
Read "We Are All" CD/LP/Track Review We Are All
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 7, 2018
Read "Rabbits on the Run" CD/LP/Track Review Rabbits on the Run
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 21, 2018
Read "Whispers And Cries" CD/LP/Track Review Whispers And Cries
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 1, 2018
Read "Aguas" CD/LP/Track Review Aguas
by Matt Hooke
Published: November 6, 2018