167

Nels Cline/Andrea Parkins/Tom Rainey: Out Trios Volume Three: Ash and Tabula

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Nels Cline/Andrea Parkins/Tom Rainey: Out Trios Volume Three: Ash and Tabula Guitarist Nels Cline sure does get around. In the past few months we've seen the release of the latest Nels Cline Singers disc, The Giant Pin ; a collaboration with Vinny Golia, The Entire Time ; and a quasi-ambient duet with bassist Devin Sarno, Buried on Bunker Hill. This, in addition to hitting the road with Wilco, makes Cline one very busy boy. As if that weren't enough, he has a new album of adventurous soundscapes with accordionist/keyboardist Andrea Parkins and drummer Tom Rainey. Ash and Tabula may not appeal to fans of more structured music, but for those who can open their ears and embrace music as a textural affair that doesn't have to rely on fixed rhythmic or melodic conceits, it makes for a remarkably varied and rewarding listen.

People can be easily frightened away from music classified as free improvisation or, as some prefer it, spontaneous composition. Without a specific harmonic or rhythmic centre, things can be just too abstract, too oblique. And all too often this kind of record has a certain uniformity of intent that makes for a monotonous experience. But by opening the mind to the possibility of stretching the boundaries of conventional instruments, and listening to the music as much with the eyes as the ears, the kind of music that Cline, Parkins and Rainey make can be highly evocative. And whereas some trios work within restricted confines of ambience and timbre, this one creates a wide breadth of sound and style, concept and texture.

"Ruination" starts things off on an anarchistic note, with Parkins and Cline pulling ever-increasing layers of noise from their instruments while Rainey, one of the most capable listeners in free jazz today, feeds off their chaos, building the intensity to an almost ear-shattering level. "Lower Story" builds on the chaos, with Cline's effects-laden guitar and Parkins' dark organ held together loosely by Rainey's sometimes metronomic, other times highly irregular rhythms.

In contrast to these edgier pieces, "Alleys of North America," which begins with Parkins' abstract piano and Cline's chordal swells, is a more spacious piece that conjures images of dark and dangerous corners. "Poem in an Ashtray" straddles the line between mysterious introspection and more direct expressionism.

But what distinguishes this from some free recordings is the chemistry that Cline, Parkins and Rainey clearly share. Even at its most obscure, there's a sense that the players are working off rather than against each other. Rainey, in particular, demonstrates the kind of intuitive inner logic that has made him so essential to the music of Tim Berne over the past eight years. And while he works with a more strictly organic instrument, avoiding all use of effects and electronics, he manages to squeeze out sounds that are surprisingly diverse.

Ash and Tabula is a daring recording, proving that three like-minded artists can create, from the humblest beginnings, a rich and unlikely record that, while clearly challenging, has much to offer the intrepid listener.

Visit Nels Cline and Andrea Parkins on the web. Also see AAJ's recent Nels Cline interview .


Track Listing: Ruination; Lower Story; Alleys of North America; Poem in an Ashtry; Pearly Turbo; Raptor; Problem Child

Personnel: Nels Cline (guitar, effects), Andrea Parkins (accordion, effects, piano, electric keyboards), Tom Rainey (drums)

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "The Eastcote Studios Session" CD/LP/Track Review The Eastcote Studios Session
by John Eyles
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Love Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Illustrations" CD/LP/Track Review Illustrations
by Dave Wayne
Published: September 7, 2016
Read "Apprentice" CD/LP/Track Review Apprentice
by Alex Franquelli
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Big Wheel Live" CD/LP/Track Review Big Wheel Live
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!