4

Vole: The Hillside Mechanisms

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Vole: The Hillside Mechanisms Three stalwarts of the London Improvisers Orchestra come together on the debut outing of the genre-mashing Vole. When playing credits number saxophone iconoclasts Peter Brötzmann, Evan Parker and Ingrid Laubrock, bassist Simon Fell and pianist Alexander Hawkins, then energy and imagination can be almost guaranteed. What's fascinating is how they align improv with noise, heavy metal and prog outbursts, sometimes within the space of a single cut. Although there are some clearly scripted sections, the whole program is ascribed collectively, reflecting a shared conception realized through close-knit interplay.

Guitarist Roberto Sassi proves fundamental to the diversity. He takes on multiple guises veering from rocky bombast to scratchy pointillism, and occasionally taking on bass duties or laying down washes of ambient electronics. Trumpeter Roland Ramanan handles most of the melody lines, but also delves into half valve effects and utilizes an array of mutes to broaden his expressive palette. On drums, Javier Carmona matches every shift with a detailed, even nervy, response: crisp when required in the ensembles but tippy tappy and jumpy at other times.

In the liners Ramanan alludes to the threesome's penchant for setting each other problems with the expectation that they will work something out to provide a resolution. Perhaps the best example of how they deal with such conundrums comes on "Tim's Frosties" when a tricky unison line gradually unravels into three divergent strands of darting trumpet, scrabbling guitar and asymmetric drums. Somehow after eight minutes of spirited exploration, the strands are re-united. What's noteworthy is how captivating they make the process.

Not everything exudes such intensity. "Voiced Unvoiced" passes as a reflective skewed ballad, while "Improctober" pitches the trumpet like some baying animal in a sonic twilight of drones and indeterminate sounds. Ringing the changes once more, the final "Before" opens with Ramanan on oriental wood flute prior to channeling Don Cherry in a wistful world music vibe. Whatever the combination of inspirations, Vole makes the result its own. A unit to follow closely in the future.

Track Listing: No Knees; Rampicanti; Slow Burn; Voiced Unvoiced; Improctober; Tim’s Frosties; At Times Their Skins Peel Off; Before.

Personnel: Roland Ramanan: trumpet; Roberto Sassi: electric guitar and electronics; Javier Carmona: drums.

Title: The Hillside Mechanisms | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Babel Label


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Blue Canvas" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Canvas
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 4, 2017
Read "Hallways" CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Oaktree" CD/LP/Track Review Oaktree
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "Moments Of Fatherhood" CD/LP/Track Review Moments Of Fatherhood
by John Sharpe
Published: April 9, 2017
Read "Night Music" CD/LP/Track Review Night Music
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "The Wild" CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 15, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.