Tony Reif is calling a mulligan here. Some twenty-five years ago, shortly before he founded and launched the Songlines imprint and long before he was known the world over for his work in the production and promotion of creative music, Reif went into a Seattle studio to produce a recording for a quartet fronted by guitarists Brad Shepik and Ron Samworth
. It was the first session he ever helmed, and some intriguing music was created and captured in less-than-ideal circumstances. But it wasn't meant to be. The finished product had some problems, the music was shelved, and everybody involved went on to other things, leaving Reif to occasionally listen back to the tape and daydream about what might've been. Now, a quarter century later, that "what if" has become reality. Thanks to the pull of memory, tremendous persistence, and the reach of technology, Reif has managed to breathe life back into the music from that session. It's 1991 again, and boy does it sound good.
Hearing the archeological narrative behind this release is almost as compelling as the music itself. After all those years, Reif finally went all in to see if this could happen. He went back to the original tapes, had them baked and transferred to high-res digital, and discovered that the needed isolation between amps and instruments was, in fact, there. Then Reif and engineer Erik Nielsen got down to the business of working and editing with Protools to fix and uncover what was truly in the mix. The story finally finishes where it should've ended in the first place: with the arrival of Quartet 1991
This bracing, time traveling set of music is every bit as dynamic as one might expect given the participants Shepik, Samworth, bassist Phil Sparks
, and drummer Michael Sarin
. Sounds swirl, tones waft, instruments prod, and this quartet demonstrates that discursive displays and focused findings are of equal importance in the art of life and the life of art. Sensitivity can sometimes be found in the interplay between these four ("Song Of Then"), but there's also a love of the lewd, an embrace of the skronky, and a passion for playfulness in these encounters. This is a crew that appreciates and investigates everything from the avant-folk and blues of Ornette Coleman
("Rambin'") to the nocturnal fever dreams of Robin Holcomb
("Nightbirds"), adding both into a winning portfolio that includes original music built on prickly sway and waltzing allure ("Bent House"), sounds of dystopia and myopia ("Confluenza"), and a general love for the marriage between the beautiful and the unnerving. This one was a long time coming, but it was worth the wait.
Confluenza; Terrestrials; Bent House; Circa; Nightbirds; PLAW; Ramblin'; Way In;
Song Of Then.
Brad Shepik: electric guitar; Ron Samworth: electric guitar; Phil Sparks: bass;
Michael Sarin: drums.