Peter Evans: Oculus Ex Abyssus; Evans/Fei/Smith/Walter; Sparks

Sean Patrick Fitzell By

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Peter Evans-Weasel Walter Group
Oculus Ex Abyssus
Ug Explode Records

Peter Evans / James Fei / Damon Smith / Weasel Walter
Ug Explode Records

Peter Evans / Tom Blancarte
Creative Source Recordings

Over the last several years, trumpeter Peter Evans has emerged as an exciting voice from the next generation of creative improvisers. Not yet 30, he's developed a broad sonic vocabulary: from brash blasts and sputtering smears of noise to lengthy lines of articulated notes, he seamlessly alternates between extended and standard techniques. Perhaps best known for his role in the tradition-subverting work of Moppa Elliott's Mostly Other People Do the Killing and the standards-deconstructions of his own quartet, Evans pushes his expressive and textural range on three releases from 2008.

The limited-edition vinyl LP Oculus Ex Abyssus is comprised of two lengthy group improvisations by the quartet Evans co-leads with drummer Weasel Walter that includes saxophonist Paul Hartsaw and bassist Damon Smith. After a halting introduction, "The Eyes of Hell" erupts in a fusillade of notes, the musicians furiously spinning ideas and quickly responding. Evans and Hartsaw generally use recognizable tones and sounds, until later when the trumpeter buzzes in duo with Smith's sawing bass, a brief respite before the next torrent. The intensity eventually subsides in a nuanced concluding section. The script flips on "Ex Adveho Malum Sonitus," which builds intensity from a probing introduction with Walter and Smith spurring the action. Near the end, Evans offers a repetitive phrase that Hartsaw and the rhythm section lock into, creating cohesion from chaos.

Saxophonist James Fei replaces Hartsaw on the eponymous CD by this collective. Energy and texture dominate the quartet's two improvisations, as Fei and Evans spew contorted sounds that intermingle and make it difficult to distinguish the source. Smith teases squeals from the bass with his bow, while Walter's rumbling tom runs and staccato fills punctuate the first improv as it alternates between intense swells and sparse ebbs. The second piece spills forth with pounding drums and a cacophonous cloud of horns. Later, Evans achieves a didgeridoo-like drone that Fei pierces with sharp blasts. Smith-Evans and Walter-Evans duets complete the CD, highlighting the trumpeter's affinity with these musicians.

A similar abstract approach is taken on Sparks, a series of improvisations between Evans and bassist Tom Blancarte, who plays in his quartet and with whom he has an obvious rapport. Blancarte matches Evans' swirling lines with deft bowing to blend with and contrast the brass on the opener "Xangu," particularly a segment of overblown multiphonic squawks. Seemingly inexhaustible, their non- idiomatic ideas rapidly flow without establishing recognizable forms or grooves, an amorphousness that challenges player and listener alike.

The full-throttle improvisations captured on these recordings illustrate the breadth of Evans' imagination and array of sounds: trilling whistles, overblown bleats, breathy drones and the occasional clean note for stark contrast.

Tracks and Personnel

Oculus Ex Abyssus

Tracks: The Eyes of Hell; Ex Adveho Malum Sonitus.

Personnel: Peter Evans: trumpet; Weasel Walter: drums; Damon Smith: bass; Paul Hartsaw: saxophones.


Tracks: 1; 2; 3; 4.

Personnel: Peter Evans: trumpet; James Fei: alto saxophone; Damon Smith: bass; Weasel Walter: percussion.


Tracks: Xangu; Summanus; Ukonvasara; Mulungu; Kw-Uhnx-Wa; Ishkur; Ajisukitakahikone.

Personnel: Peter Evans: piccolo trumpet; Tom Blancarte: double bass.

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