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The Fire Throws is a stunning poetic soundscape by the Berlin-based wind trio Trigger, composed of Chris Heenan on contrabass clarinet, Matthias Mueller on trombone, and Nils Ostendorf on trumpet. The instrumentation recalls the classic big band front line, but this group takes that tradition and turns it inside out and backwards. This is bold, courageous musicthe musicians are free from the conventional parameters assigned to their instruments, and they're completely unfettered by any notions of what music is or is not.
Each of the eight pieces is a unique aural landscape, a captivating swath of energy and sound. The traditional elements of harmony and rhythm and melody do not appear here; rather, this music is about atmosphere and texture. Through the use of multiphonics, circular breathing, and a variety of innovative techniques, the group creates long extensions of sound; these lengthy mechanical drones are punctuated by alien, mysterious noises, but there is also the sound of human breath, as well as the wood and metal of the instruments. The three musicians create an astounding range and depth of sounds, and they also display a sensitive understanding of space and silence, plus a beautiful sense of pacing and dynamics.
One hint into the inspiration for this CD lies in the track titles, which are all taken from geology, such as "Karst," a geological formation shaped by the dissolution of layers of bedrock, and "Talus," which is the accumulation of broken rock fragments at the base of crags and cliffs. Perhaps this music refers to the actual sounds of the earth's shifting geology; perhaps it's a metaphor for the sound sculptures created by this group. This constant shape shifting is precisely the pleasure and adventure of this kind of music: each piece is bursting with the unexpected, and this glorious unpredictability ignites the imagination and excites the ears throughout.
The Fire Throws was released by Insubordinations, which seeks to provide a home for musicians who are undertaking this kind of electro-acoustic adventure. Over the last few years, this Swiss label has produced a remarkable sixty releases, and also supports this music by organizing concerts and coordinating a large improvisers' orchestra. Insubordinations' oeuvre provides an exciting documentation of the future of musica future that's happening right now.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.