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Album Review

Secret People: Secret People

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Secret People: Secret People
Even though he doesn't appear on the album, the music of Secret People has an affinity with the warped precision of keyboardist Matt Mitchell. Perhaps not surprising as drummer Kate Gentile forms one half of the duo Snark Horse with Mitchell, who also plays on guitarist Dustin Carlson's leadership debut Air Ceremony (OOYH, 2019), as does the third member of this trio, alto saxophonist Nate Morgan. However this wily outfit is a collective, with the six compositions credited to the band as a whole. Often that signifies group improvs, but that is way off the mark here, as the intricate interlocking elements and quick-changing time signatures attest.

But it's to the threesome's credit that even with such an angsty caffeinated ride, the music doesn't unseat the listener. Thanks to Carlson's armory of textures and attacks, and Gentile's widescreen approach, the unit wields a more expansive palette than might be anticipated from sheer numbers. Gentile alternately recalls either a finicky whirlwind, one which leaves everything tidier than when it started, or a rummage through the bargain bin in a hardware store, with her lexicon of rustles, bangs and scrapes. Whether projecting assurance or enervation, Morgan doubles down on the bustling esprit de corps, artfully curling around guitar and drums like smoke around a candle.

Testament to the shared ethos is the difficulty in discerning solos as each individual is so attuned to the thrust of a piece. And thrust is the right word, as most of the cuts belt out of the gate, even if there are reflective sections to follow, as is the case in both "Choc(h)oyotes" and "Legitimate Perseverance." The most complex tracks are the longest, the 10-minute "Peephole" scurrying through a series of moods from doomy to sunny to atmospheric, while the near quarter of an hour closer, "Swamp Gaze," proves even less open to summation. Sandwiched between these two come the brief fidgety "Ascetic Dust," featuring Carlson alone, and the laidback "U" replete with smeary distortions.

In a kaleidoscopic amalgam of abstraction and drive, the group's chemistry, like their chops, is undeniable.

Track Listing

Choc(h)oyotes; Legitimate Perseverance; Peephole; Ascetic Dust; U; Swamp Gaze.

Personnel

Dustin Carlson: guitar; Kate Gentile: drums; Nate Morgan: saxophone, alto.

Album information

Title: Secret People | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Out Of Your Head Records


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