250

Totem>: Solar Forge

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Totem>: Solar Forge There is an observation, which seconds as an insider joke, about free jazz and the loft scene in the sixties: "There is no such thing as a bad session. Why? Because you cannot tell...." The implication here is, given that jazz is what the players say it is and that if there are no principles on which the listener can hang his ears and mind, then there is no way to judge whether it is good or bad. However, aesthetically, it is quite possible for something to be good, even great art, and for the observer not to like it.

Solar Forge, however, is great art, precisely because there are rules to aesthetics and TOTEM> adheres to them, with the result being aural coherence within the context of the unplanned. Liking or disliking is beside the point, but there is no getting around the fact that this music exists in "open ears" territory, and will be challenging for those with preconceptions about what music, jazz or not, should be.

That said, this music is an incredible listening experience. From moment to moment, the directed purpose of guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil, bassist Tom Blancarte and drummer Andrew Drury, as both individuals and group members, can be heard and followed— the trio consciously produces each piece's distinct sound—short and long term. Thus, the first principle of art, that of purposeful, directed control, is audible; that this is happening in real time and is perpetually changing and mutating is what part of what makes it challenging.

The other part is the sounds themselves. While the instruments played are conventional, their use is anything but. This is most obvious with Eisenbeil's guitar and Blancarte's bass. The tour de force that is Inner Constellation Volume 1 (Nemu, 2007), showed Eisenbeil's mastery and extension of physical and electronic guitar technique, and he is even more amazing here.

Blancarte produces an enormous range of sounds, many of which mix with Eisenbeil's low end, ranging from scrapings, bowings, pluckings, and harmonic squeals—anything but the conventional. As he and Eisenbeil fit hand in glove, Drury adds his layer of dry, conventional, but arrhythmic drumming, cymbals scrapes, and many other sounds. That this complex sound mass is produced in real time must be heard to be believed.

The Hephaestus in the third track, "Hephaestus' Wrath," is the Greek equivalent of the more commonly known Vulcan. All of the associations that arise from this myth, including heat, boiling cauldrons, volcanoes, flowing metal, and controlled chaos have a place in the emotional space within which this music exists.

In the end, art, and particularly music, is about emotional communication. Solar Forge scalds and sears with a white hot intensity, making it great music, regardless of genre.


Track Listing: Blooming Ore; Austenized; Hephaestus' Wrath; Annealed.

Personnel: Bruce Eisenbeil: guitar; Tom Blancarte: upright bass; Andrew Drury: drums.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ESP Disk | Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Juggling Kukla" CD/LP/Track Review Juggling Kukla
by John Sharpe
Published: June 19, 2016
Read "Impermanence" CD/LP/Track Review Impermanence
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 3, 2016
Read "Live InTokyo" CD/LP/Track Review Live InTokyo
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "Real Feels - Live Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Real Feels - Live Vol. 1
by Mark F. Turner
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "Obnoxius" CD/LP/Track Review Obnoxius
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 20, 2016
Read "Mac Gollehon & The Hispanic Mechanics" CD/LP/Track Review Mac Gollehon & The Hispanic Mechanics
by Paul Naser
Published: May 2, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!