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Dialectical Imagination: The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Wrath

Karl Ackermann By

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On their debut album The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture (Atma Nadi Records, 2017) pianist/composer Eli Wallace and drummer Rob Pumpelly—the duo Dialectical Imagination—described their music as an amalgam of free improvisation and chamber music. Their vision for The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Wrath is decidedly more abstract though that is an overly simplified depiction of a complex set of extended pieces.

A California native, transplanted in New York, Wallace has a broad background that includes jazz, rock and classical music. He studied with Jason Moran and Jerry Bergonzi in route to a Master's of Music at the New England Conservatory. Pumpelly, originally from Georgia, had previously worked with Wallace in a group called Will Redmond's Transcontinental Blow-Up Telethon. In addition to being a percussionist, Pumpelly is an accomplished bassoonist and guitarist. His two albums with Dialectical Imagination are instrumentally confined to drums.

The four track program is book-ended by the lengthiest pieces, "Autopoietica I" and "Strength and Presence" at approximately ten and fourteen minutes respectively. Both are highlighted by Pumpelly's intensive and rhythmic attack, interplayed with Wallace's alternating torrent of notes and thrashing propulsion. While ...Songs of Rapture had its share of dissonance, it was bended with opulent lyricism to a greater extent than Wrath. The new album is not devoid of melody; the boisterous, somewhat disjointed piano on "Hatch(ling)" and much of the classically influenced "Autopoietica II" provide some "rapture," similar to that of the debut.

At less than thirty-five minutes, ...Songs of Wrath is a brief, but intense outing, released as a faux cassette tape housing a USB flash drive. One of the phenomena of Dialectical Imagination is their ability to create a sound far larger than two musicians typically generate with simply an acoustic piano and drums. Given the overall speed of reactions and rapid pace of these pieces, it becomes easy to overlook both musicians' ability to incorporate moods from near-lyrical to frenetic. However, it's all incorporated—if not equally—in The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Wrath. Two albums along, Dialectical Imagination shows increasingly boundless potential with their forward moving creations.

Track Listing: Autopoietica I; Hatch(ling); Autopoietica II; Strength and Presence.

Personnel: Eli Wallace: piano; Rob Pumpelly: drums.

Title: The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Wrath | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Atma Nadi Records

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