Seemingly the most complicated music is really the most simple; complexity might stem only from the mindful choices the performers make when they play. Yet, when the vocabulary of each performer is so well attuned to the possibilities of an unusual instrumental setting, then the choices for improvising, even though they might sound oddly pressured, are instinctual. What the musicians give each other musically and how each responds, generates the music.
This concept holds true on Throw Down Your Hammer And Sing, featuring the trio of Nate Wooley on trumpet, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello and electronics and Jason Roebke on bass. How they relate to each other is through pure sound-making where the sounds are discrete, but tend towards surprising fluidity ("Southern Ends of the Earth"), or what might seem to be total cacophony ("Tacones Altos") is totally sensible. It would be difficult to suggest that the music could be any other way than it is. The journey takes only one road and it is fascinating to follow it.
Five tracks, each lasting over ten minutes, give unquestionable substance to this recording. The textures are constantly changing. They metaphorically evoke auditory images that are mechanical ("Sans Aluminumius"), digital ("Saint Mary"), or are downright spacey and environmentally natural ("Anywhere, Anyplace at All"). Even though Lonberg-Holm steers the electronics, it is often the acoustic instruments that are tonally blending so well that how they merge seems electronic ("Sans Aluminumus"). Sometimes the question could be asked: where is the percussion? And the answer might be anywhere, anyplace or at none all.
The activity of singing, implied in the title, occurs where the song is the subtle, nuanced conversation among instruments ("Southern Ends of the Earth"). When the trumpet and the cello merge in timbre ("Sans Aluminumius"), the resulting surge ushers in a sinking sensation not without a deep bass tone, as if to eradicate all that annoys, leaving a state that allows for aberration to pass through aurally, as unavoidable but not untenable gestures from the outside world.
When the trumpet, cello and electronics interact ("Southern Ends of the Earth"), there is no contest; Wooley's tone often matches that of the cello so that its timbral quality disappears. The sound of the trumpet intercedes sometimes as accent ("Tacones Altos," "Saint Mary") or to embellish the fullness of the overall sound ("Sans Aluminumius" and "Southern Ends of The Earth"). The entire recording attests to Lonberg-Holm's genius as he advances his adventures with the bow as it scrapes, tweaks, scratches, twists, grinds, saws or broaches melody on the cello strings. Roebke's curious pizzicatos and well-placed arco consistently supports predominate textures whether they be electronic or from the cello ("Anywhere, Anyplace At All," "Southern Ends of The Earth").
This music induces a magical meditationso abstract, so non-melodic, and so persistent in its vagaries that its appreciation is subject to transcendence, the skirting of analysis and just going with the flow.
Visit Nate Wooley, Fred Lonberg-Holm and Jason Roebke on the web.