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Rob Mazurek: Marfa Loops Shouts and Hollers

Karl Ackermann By

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In recent years trumpeter and electronic composer Rob Mazurek has gained prominence as a visual artist whose work has been shown on three continents. Besides giving its name to this audio collection, Marfa Loops Shouts and Hollers has been a link to additional musical and visual projects emanating from Mazurek's home base of Marfa, Texas. His Blind Curves and Box Canyons (Relative Pitch Records, 2017) first connected his diverse artistic interests in the live exhibition setting. With Marfa Loops Shouts and Hollers the multi-instrumentalist gives us an original collection created as a direct companion piece to his visual exhibition.

For all intents and purposes, Marfa is a solo outing. Joining Mazurek briefly are neo-folk artist and Marfa resident Ross Cashiola who lends vocals on three tracks. Vance Knowles, a Texas-based music producer, who had worked on two Lyle Lovett albums, contributes one vocal. Knowles was instrumental in launching the BallroomMarfa, a venue for performance events and an art gallery.

Much of Mazurek's instrumentation consists of electronics: modular synth, sampler, and computer, though his cornet is in the mix as well. It is tempting not to point out the apparatus used; the labels can easily shroud the organic nature of this work. Mazurek's palette—literally and figuratively—is broad, and it is best to let the anticipation of surprise precede each of his musical endeavors. The liner notes quote the novelist Donald Barthelme who says, in part, "I think that the effort is to reach a realm of meaning that is not quite sayable." It's a good precedent to set in attempting to describe the music on Marfa. Half a dozen tracks are less than one minute in length and the pieces range up to the ten-plus minute closing track "Delayed, Delayed." Over the course of the album, electronics begin to form a language that is inimitable and remarkably non-repetitive. Voices, somewhat disembodied, add intriguing layers on "Falling Down" and "Sweet Wooded," while "Caged" and "Placed at Last" have an ambient musicality to them; the latter piece, haunting and strangely beautiful.

Rob Mazurek has spent years exploring less tangible parts of the universe, seldom seen—or heard—by others. In the process he has laid claim to a space of his own. Listening to the orchestral effect of "As the Wind2" or the percussive popping of "Fire and Time," one can hear the familiar and the foreign all at once. Think of these as the sounds of nature from an alien place. Disregard the characteristic markers of electronic and acoustic here—they muddy the water and obscure the etymology that is emerging from this cosmos whose current epicenter is in a small town in Texas.

Marfa Loops Shouts and Hollers is released as a limited-edition set including a hardbound book of the visual exhibition, CD and digital download. The digital download version includes a PDF version of the exhibit. Finally, to further appreciate the creative and clever mind of Rob Mazurek, read the track listing for the album, straight through without pausing.

Track Listing: Falling Down; From the Sky; Like Some; Damned Ghost; Delayed; Delayed2; Too Long; Caged; By Force; Fire and Time; Placed at Last; On This Hill; Of Mine; Sweet Wooded; Slope; Of Golden; Summer; Where Time; Rolls On; Undone; As the Wind; As the Wind2; Falling Down From the Sky; Like Some Damned Ghost; Delayed, Delayed.

Personnel: Rob Mazurek: modular synth, bells, sampler, cornet, computer, voice; Ross Cashiola: voice (1, 11, 17); Vance Knowles: voice (14).

Title: Marfa Loops Shouts and Hollers | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Harmonipan

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