With the stimulating Mannequins, the New York based drummer Kate Gentile has created a cohesive and engaging album. On this first release under her own name, Gentile superbly balances emotive passion and intellectual acumen. Her intricate compositions are simultaneously fully realized and vibrantly supple and pliant as to allow for independent spontaneous expressions.
The band's angular and crisp refrains build and intensely expectant ambience on the haunting "Trapezoidal Nirvana." Pianist Matt Mitchell plays a crisp and resonant cascade of notes over Gentile's piquant rumble and restless beats. With bassist Adam Hopkins' yearning solo a lyrical wistfulness enters the tune that reedman Jeremy Viner embellishes with his introspective and cerebral musings. The concluding collective performance is hypnotic, perturbing and impressive.
Scattered through the longer, more expansive tracks, there are short and poignant musical sketches. These are an integral part of the record and demonstrate the ensemble's close synergy. Gentile's galloping thuds and crashing cymbals open the otherworldly "Sear" with a bang. The other musicians contribute phrases that brim with measured dissonance enhancing the eerie mood. The tense "Xenomorphic" starts off as a vigorous thundering duet between Gentile and Hopkins. The angst-ridden piece tumbles headlong through Mitchell's electronic soundscape to a memorably moving finale.
This intriguing album closes with fiery and thrillingly complex "SSGF." The quartet's ardent and mesmerizing vamps build an exquisitely multidimensional and crystalline framework. Mitchell contributes incisive, cogent melodic fragments , while Hopkins' delightfully dark bass-lines add a foreboding edge to the music. Viner blows with unfettered fervor while Gentile's percussion anxiously percolates. The riotous melee gives way to a somber mood as the disc ends.
Mannequins is a surprisingly mature work that showcases Gentile's superb talents as a performer, a composer and a band leader. On it Gentile demonstrates a unique and individualistic style as well as seamless camaraderie with her sidemen. This auspicious debut whets the appetite of more to come from this exciting artist.
Track Listing: stars covered in clouds of metal; trapezoidal nirvana; unreasonable
optimism; hammergaze; Otto, on alien shoulders; xenomorphic;
wrack; cardiac logic; full lucid; sear; Micronesia parakeet; alchemy
melt [with tilt]; SSGF.
Personnel: Jeremy Viner:tenor sax, clarinet; Matt Mitchell: piano, Prohpet 6,
electronics; Adam Hopkins: bass; Kate Gentile: drums, vibraphone.
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