Stark, abstract inquiries are fashioned, some resolved, some left hanging, in the jarring and resolute music of Swiss-pianist Sebastien Ammann's Color Wheel. With an uncanny ability to command the moment, Ammann and his equally inspired matesMichael Attias on saxophone, bassistNoah Garabedian, trombonist Samuel Blaser and drummerNathan Ellman-Belltake the moment and throw in a ton of turbulence and false leads and still close the deal. Quite nicely too. For the nine Ammann-imagined tracks on Resilience, Color Wheel's cart-wheeling follow-up to its acrobatically inclined, eponymous Skirl Records 2017 debutmakes for a host of slurred traditions and blurred lines. In other words, a great ride.
With the wind at his back, Ammann and company quickly dismantle "Yayoi," inspired by the work of Japanese visual artist Yayoi Kusama, from it's dreamy first hints of serenity to make it something else all together. Like Photoshop. There's a chase scene about four minutes in which everyone partakes, and the crash that you never see turns everything on its head. It's a real time conceptualism and if one isn't paying close attention it's like falling off a cliff.
But what's below? That would be the elastic tenacity of "Untangled," a performance and composition full of energetic, hairpin curves, with an Attias high register squall one moment and the next a sharp, quietly disjointed descent by all. Ammann doesn't push the Fender Rhodes off to the side to collect dust; he uses it to set a deceptive hip/hop melody into motion over a rushing, beating pace that sets both Blaser and Attias in flight on "Castello di TraIiccio." It's fusion cool until it isn't, a total deck reshuffle at which Ammanns excels, giving his over-driven Rhodes lead on the title track that Attias takes over as the tune weaves its own brightly complex web of structure vs. free rein.
It's a tightly controlled yet expertly loose sequence of character studiesanother neat trick up Ammann's sleeve, and the true motivating force behind Resilience. But it's also the intrigue of creation that binds these guys. And as subsequent, winning tracks unfolda spacious cornucopia of styles that make up "Afterthought," or the vertical modernism of "Pedestrian Space" proveit's one very tight bind.
Yayoi; Untangled; Castello di Traliccia; Resilience; King Korn Revisited; Aylan Kurdi; The Traveller; Afterthought;
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