With all the threatening weirdness and desperate surrealism that has become life in the USA, it makes absolute sense that Supersense
, daring trumpeter/composer Steph Richards
' third full length album, starts out like an encroaching invasion of ants, or microbes, or a disruptive, divisive, myopic political movement.
As with such forward seeking rebels as Henry Threadgill
, Anthony Braxton
, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson
and Yoko Ono, Richards' modus operandi is chiseled in the very foundations of the music itself. Never not challenge the listener. Never provide a place of comfort that's too comfortable because, once coziness becomes ritual and reward, the inelegant powers of mob think begin their woeful march to dark misery.
Minimalism of the highest order, Richards takes as her guiding light for the trajectory of Supersense
the concept of scent as motivator and translator of the mind and body's reaction to the insane world at large. She even went so far as to have multimedia artist Sean Raspet create singular, abstract scents to inform and accompany the recording.
That whole concept may very well escape most listeners, but the music of Supersense
manipulated, reactionary, explorative, cryptic, unbridled is beyond not being captivated by. Impossible not to visualize, emotionalize and be fascinated by. Beside the same boundary busting line-up that created her stunning 2019 breakthrough Take The Neon Lights
(Birdwatcher), pianist Jason Moran
, bassist Stomu Takeishi
and drummer Kenny Wollesen
comply and resist, supplant and sanction Richards' breathy, austere implorings and guttural entreaties in equal measures.
To say that the creepily luminescent "Underbelly" starts off Richards and company's latest excursion beyond the realm is really a false equivalent. Supersense
can and does start anywhere and everywhere: the raw, percussive title track, the burbling closer, "The Gentlest Insect," the anti-matter like "Sleeping In the Sky," the broken harmonics of "Metal Mouth," or the whispering neo-noir of "Glass." Co-produced by Richards and fellow seeker, drummer Andrew Munsey
(who augments the undertow of "Matter Is Water") Supersense
makes for high-grade experimental avant-garde and then some.
Underbelly; Supersense; Canopy; Glass; Metal Mouth; Bunker; Matter is Water; Sleeping in
the Sky: The Gentlest Insect.