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Quin Kirchner: The Other Side of Time

Gareth Thompson By

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Quin Kirchner was forging a musical career in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina. Despite his house being ruined, he held off from leaving until the last moment due to gig commitments. With a support system of family and friends back in Chicago, Kirchner returned home where his percussive skills became key in the city's music scene.

Having recorded and performed with the likes of Ryley Walker, Bill MacKay, Matthew Golombisky and Greg Ward, the drummer now delivers a solo effort. Based on his own compositions, with some judiciously chosen covers, Kirchner offers a wondrous work of art. Backed by a lush quintet featuring Nick Broste (trombone) and Nate LePine (tenor sax/flute), the album is lengthy but never indulgent.

Opening cut, "The Ritual," sets out with shy sax and bass clarinet notes that warble like a dawn chorus. Kirchner shifts into gear adding a hint of congo, as Lepine cuts loose and the trombone underpins, using New Orleans-style sad brass. We could be hearing a celebration of rising from disaster. Matt Ulery's bass then dominates as the piece winds down and we return to haunting birdsong. It makes for a majestic opening cut and a worthy rite to beckon summer.

The cover of "Brainville" by Sun Ra tips a wink to Kirchner's hometown heritage. Dedicated on the original Sun Song album 'to scientists and space pilots,' the swinging riffs have a utopian vibe on this shiny version.

"Crossings" brings a sublime duet, where flute and sax flirt like a butterfly chasing a bee. All this time Kirchner remains subtle and sympathetic on percussion, but he's quick to use those drumsticks like conducting batons to reshape his ensemble.

"Drums & Tines Pt 1" and the later "Pt 2" offer musical-box mysticism on kalimba with a quirky offbeat. "Wondrous Eyes" has a muted intro, like rumblings from deep space, then bluesy Balkan phrases enter as we reach a realm of midnight romance. Yet a warning against getting too cosy is sounded by the staccato sax jabs. This could be film noir territory, wreathed in smoke and shadows.

Two solo drum workouts, "Resounder" and "Ripple," are driven by wild primal energy. The effect is shamanistic, mesmeric and profound. Local legends are honoured again across a fourteen minute take on Kelan Phil Cohran's "Armageddon," where Kirchner's band is given free rein to conjure chaos.

This is also a great album for headphones listening. Check out "Together We Can Explore The Furthest Beyond" with its smoky vapours as soothing as any balm. Or the run through Charles Mingus's beatific "Self-Portrait In Three Colors," wherein we might be taking tea in some Buddhist temple.

Love, wrote the Jesuit scientist Teilhard, brings us to the threshold of another universe. In our fractured world, Kirchner's music seems to radiate with wonder and newness. Celestial blues, indeed, with a cosmic core. The Other Side Of Time holds us in a beautiful hour of suspense.

Track Listing: Ritual; Brainville; Crossings; Drums & Tines Pt 1; Wondrous Eyes; Limbo / The Shoes of the Fisherman's Wife Are Some Jive Ass Slippers; Resounder; Together We Can Explore the Furthest Beyond; Mumbo Jumbo; Flutter; Karina; Drums & Tines Pt. 2; Armageddon; Ripple; Self-Portrait In Three Colors.

Personnel: Quin Kirchner: drums, percussion, kalimba, sampler, Wurlitzer; Nick Broste: trombone; Nate Lepine: tenor saxophone, flute; Jason Stein: bass clarinet; Matt Ulery: bass; Ben Boye: piano on "Together We Can Explore the Furthest Beyond."

Title: The Other Side of Time | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Astral Spirits

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Bandcamp: https://quinkirchner.bandcamp.com/album/the-other-side-of-time

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