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Album Review

Nate Wooley: Seven Storey Mountain VI

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Nate Wooley: Seven Storey Mountain VI
From 2010 onwards, composer-trumpeter Nate Wooley has explored creative music as a solo artist and through a spectrum of collaborators such as Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Mary Halvorson, Ken Vandermark, and Matthew Shipp. These projects have been offset by Wooley's Seven Storey Mountain succession of releases; Seven Storey Mountain VI is a masterwork of expressionist passion and discord, taking the series to a new level.

The sound that Wooley debuted in 2009 was compact in scale, with drummer Paul Lytton, and David Grubbs playing the harmonium. Seven Storey Mountain's second release retained a trio formation but with drummer Chris Corsano and violinist C. Spencer Yeh. Each successive release expanded the group size, building to orchestral proportions with Corsano and Yeh remaining on board throughout. A notable addition to the ensemble is pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn whose wide-ranging talents have contributed to projects by Ellery Eskelin, Michael Formanek, Joe McPhee, Ken Vandermark, and Mary Halvorson, as well as her numerous leader releases.

The stunning opening minutes suggest the spiritual works of Estonian composer Arvo Part, carried by the wordless vocals of Yoon Sun Choi, Mellissa Hughes, and Megan Schubert who leads a twenty-one-person choral group. Organ, piano and percussion join in before Alcorn's pedal steel guitar brings a disembodied, ethereal quality to the music. By the mid-point of this forty-five-minute piece, the music has turned into a gentle swirl of sounds, Wooley's amplified trumpet and tape loops, Ava Mendoza's distant, crunchy electric guitar, a spoken-word reading in the background, and more. The calm dissipates, the churn becoming a tornado, throwing every sound at breakneck speed before setting down.

The final ten minutes of Seven Storey Mountain VI are ushered in by organ and the returning choir, spirituality colliding with the defiant poetry of Peggy Seeger's "Reclaim the Night." VI is a potion concocted with equal parts of anger and euphoria. It is commanding, distressing, but ultimately assenting, and the most powerful work of Nate Wooley's career.

Track Listing

Seven Storey Mountain VI.

Personnel

Nate Wooley: trumpet; Samara Lubelski: violin; C. Spencer Yeh: violin; Chris Corsano: drums; Benjamin Hall: drums; Ryan Sawyer: drums; Susan Alcorn: guitar, steel; Julien Desprez: guitar; Ava Mendoza: guitar; Isabelle O'Connell: keyboards; Emily Manzo: keyboards; Yoon Sun Choi: voice / vocals; Mellissa Hughes: voice / vocals; Megan Schubert: voice / vocals.

Album information

Title: Seven Storey Mountain VI | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Pyroclastic Records


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