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Frank Rosaly: Milkwork

Mark Corroto By

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The very in-demand Chicago drummer Frank Rosaly takes time out from his duties in over twenty bands—ranging from experimental sound, jazz, rock, and improvised music—to make a solo recording of drumming and electronics. Milkwork is a nine-song LP (also available as a digital download), pressed on white vinyl in a limited edition of 500.

Rosaly's approach to music synthesizes varying musical genres and draws from a broad and diverse range of sources. He can be heard playing duo with guitarist Matt Schneider or Dave Rempis, and with the Rempis Percussion Quartet, in which he shares drum duties with Tim Daisy. Then there's his work (also in duo) with Keefe Jackson, the Chicago Luzern Exchange, Fast Citizens, Jorrit Dijkstra's Flatlands Collective, Jeb Bishop's bands, Rob Mazurek's Mandarin Movie—to name just a few.

Rosaly fuses his acoustic drum kit with contact microphones, then runs various effects from echo devices, delays, and distortion pedals on his cymbals. When desired, as on "NY Prices!," he leans on feedback from his microphones for heavy, menacing textures and thunderous beats. The use of effects rarely distracts from the sound. Even when he samples Moog synthesizer sounds on the brief "He Junkin," the focus is his stuttering drum solo, a story of locomotion and maybe derailment.

The recording tilts more towards drumming than electronics. Rosaly can pulse and deliver energy like the great Tony Williams. His first take of "NY Prices," sans electronics, is an ocean of energy capable of delivering a very visual reaction to the audio. Rosaly's playing elicits a mental movie of his hands and feet in motion. It's these smaller, Vermeer-painted sounds that create images of Rosaly in physical motion. "Four Bright Red Dots" pares things down to cymbals, small drums, and sticks to create a meditation of sorts. Rosaly draws from polyrhythms and minimalist techniques, to African and South American sounds to great effect.

Expanding his sounds through effects, Rosaly plots an electronic soundscape, on "Burnshine," that is barely recognizable as drummer-driven. This piece and "Zoquete," with its harmonium-sounding electronics, conjure images of a second player interacting with the drummer. Knowing that this is a solo and improvised session, the motion picture image of the drummer is erased and the possibilities of the sounds are cut loose from their moorings.


Track Listing: Adolescents; NY Prices; Four Bright Red Dots; Truce; Zoquete; NY Prices!; Calcetines; Burnshine; He Junkin.'

Personnel: Frank Rosaly: drums, electronics.

Title: Milkwork | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Contraphonic


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