Saxophonist & composer Ingrid Laubrock and her partner, drummer Tom Rainey self-released an ongoing series of spontaneous duets, the Stir Crazy Episodes, recorded during the pandemic lockdown. They were most likely a kind of pressure release mechanism for both artists. With Monochromes, Laubrock heads in the opposite direction by commissioning four musicians to pre-record tape pieces based on her notations, both conventional and graphical; these form the foundations for Laubrock and three different collaborations to improvise over. The single 40-minute construction can best be described as both sonic architecture and a musical graphic novella.
The first of these tape pieces comes from trumpeter Nate Wooley. He follows Laubrock's score for 29 trumpets based on a György Ligeti orchestral work. Laubrock and engineer Chris Krasnow manipulate the music to such an extent that one may not recognize the Wooley in the Wooley performance. Laubrock's aim is to then join the tape with her studio ensemble of Jon Irabagon, Zeena Parkins, and Rainey. The Wooley odyssey evolves into a series of cycles accented by Rainey's drum, and saxophone entanglements. The music bleeds into Adam Matlock's accordion tape submission with its shower of notes. Irabagon bleats out duck calls and circular breath saxophone before ringing high-pitched tightrope-walking sounds with Laubrock answering his call. This, plus Parkins' accordion, creates a wall of sound. Next up is Rainey's submission of percussion, performed over sparking electronics and off-kilter horns. The outward chaos of much of Monochromes is balanced in its final section where Laubrock, JD Allen and David Breskin manipulate Harry Bertoia's sonambient sculptures, before Laubrock takes up her saxophone to improvise with the metal sound-art pieces.
Ingrid Laubrock: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Harry Bertoia’s sonambient sculptures;
JD Allen: Harry Bertoia’s sonambient sculptures; David Breskin: Harry Bertoia’s sonambient
Zeena Parkins: Electric Harp
Tom Rainey: Drums
Tape pieces in order of appearance:
Trumpets: Nate Wooley
Accordions: Adam Matlock
Percussion: Tom Rainey
Harry Bertoia Sculptures: JD Allen, David Breskin & Ingrid Laubrock
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