The first half of 2018 sees the Toronto Jazz-scene bursting with fresh sound and innovation, bringing new and exciting nuances to what appears to be today's Status Quo. After the architecturally intense exploration that was saxophonist Gordon Hyland's Never Die!
, by his group Living Fossil in February, the object of this review exposes shared similarities with the latter in its compositional approach. On Peripheral Vision
's More Songs About Error And Shame
, Toronto-based leaders Michael Herring
and Don Scott
establish a melodic concept, harmonize it with much detail and subsequently create an energetically extended jam out of the resulting puzzle piece. Contrary to the approach of the above mentioned Living Fossil, this group works in a more minimalistic way and impresses by creating most impactful climaxes by means of merely four instruments.
Rhythmically complex interplay between Nick Fraser
on drums and a syncopated melody led in unison by Trevor Hogg
and Herring introduces the urgency of what's to follow, straight from opening, "The Blunder." Scott picks up the main melodic framework on guitar and pushes the rhythm group in the background with highly expressive guitar runs. Meanwhile the band incessantly grows louder until taking on an orchestral character, emphasized by deep-roaring rhythmic saxophone dots. Halfway through the song all is broken down to a smoothly swaying bass solo section. Not unlike the calm after a storm of uneasy waters, the remaining four minutes stand in immediate contrast to the opening sequence in pace, melody and general mood.
There's a sense of irony and sarcasm on display in most of the seven songs, usually expressed by the sudden appearance of odd measures combined with whimsical melodic exchanges between saxophone and guitar. ""And The Metaphysical Concept Of Shame"" puts these conversations at the center of its construction while at the same time having a confidently grooving bass line as its foundation, recalling some of Dave Holland's ventures in the 70s. The contrast between a keen sense of humor and a stream of intricate melodic movements through the instruments is the source of the record's elegant balance and keeps things interesting throughout.
Pure improvisation dominates the most abstract illustration by the quartet, found in "Chubby Cello." The same effective dynamism found throughout the entire record smoothly joins the sequencing of tracks and provides a spontaneous element that precedes the most driven performance the four lay down ,"Mycelium Running." What starts out as a jumpy post-bop exercise with clean guitar runs at its center develops into a punchy fusion blow-out which is first initiated by a smoky sax solo and distorted guitar strokes that enhance the fumes. Ever-increasing snare blows further emphasize the immediacy of the build-up and reinforce an already firm grip.
The album comes to a close with the deceiving "Click Bait." Starting out with a much expected calm approach the saxophone introduces one of the most melodic lines of the album which is counterpointed by clean cyclical guitar patterns. But, again similar to most songs here, the structure is more ambiguous and develops into the most danceable bit yet. The tight rhythm base defines a festive jam upon which the two melodic leaders deliver suspenseful dialogues. Scott's reverb-heavy tone is reminiscent of the one Gilad Hekselman
has established over the years and alternates most fluently with Hogg's poignant sax stabs. More Songs About Error And Shame
clearly is everything but a smooth ride, yet at the same time it couldn't leave the listener more satisfied or balanced. While for most part a live recording, producer John Martin did undertake several overdubbing procedures, all the while keeping the overall sound organic and therefore playing an important part in the records success. A refreshingly enjoyable listen deserving much attention, admiration and maybe even a laugh here and there? Recommended!
The Blunder; Syntax Error; "And the metaphysical concept of shame"; Portrait Of A Man In A Late Nineteenth Century
Frame; Chubby Cello; Click Bait.
Trevor Hogg: Tenor saxophone; Don Scott: guitar; Michael Herring: bass; Nick Fraser: drums.