136

Gordon Grdina's Boxcutter: Unlearn

By

Sign in to view read count
You can tell that guitarist Gordon Grdina does not perceive music through a guitarist's eyes solely. The tunes on Unlearn, with his group Box Cutter, seem formed from deeply collaborative ideas, with considerable importance placed on the contribution of each player and a great regard for their respective instruments.

Musicianship on the album is grand and the personalities that emerge amusing. They're coy, brisk and unstoppable on the opening track "Titlewave. Grdina proves he's got lots of energy and can flitter his way around his instrument no problem, while Karlis Silins on bass does acrobatics around him, provoking him into a rhythmic jostle. The clarinet, played by François Houle, teases with all sorts of wacky antics, as when a series of ascending notes goes warbling into center stage, while drummer Kenton Loewen keeps the rhythm rolling and allows this combination to make a lot of sense.

Throughout the album, energies shift without warning. A quirky ramble on one track will give way to a rocking jaunt on the next, which then makes room for a sensitive saunter on another. Short, frantic notes dissipate, clearing the way for something a bit more meaningful, something that has allowed for breaths to be taken, like "Pads. Houle harmonizes with himself, playing equally long, tender notes from two clarinets simultaneously, while Loewen crashes his cymbal again and again making the space shudder with metallic waves. Over it all Grdina falls into a lovely parlance with what sounds like a classical guitar; seemingly unaware of what's going on around him, he romances the instrument, touching mildly on the Arabic melodies he has become so expert in and which he normally plays on the oud.

A few tunes, particularly "Albert The Monk and "Soul Suite, recall the dusty American byways. Houle's clarinet takes on a soulful air on the latter, playing a melody weighted with worries of the past and sweetly uplifted by optimistic acoustic guitar and drums.

The group plays around with sound quite a bit on Unlearn, encouraging their instruments to do more than the standard. But there's still a sense of something mustering, yet not quite realized. The last track "Platform provides a glimpse into what this group could be as they venture tepidly into more exploratory realms. It's a fitting title for a tune played by a group that has something quite solid underfoot.

Track Listing: Titlewave; Cworky; Kenton & I; Pads; Say; Distant; Origin; Soul Suite; Albert the Monk; Platform.

Personnel: Gordon Grdina: guitar; Francois Houle: clarinets; Karlis Silins: bass; Kenton Loewen: drums.

Title: Unlearn | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Spool


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Heart Knows CD/LP/Track Review Heart Knows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Jersey CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Wobbly Danse Flower CD/LP/Track Review Wobbly Danse Flower
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Carry Fire CD/LP/Track Review Carry Fire
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 22, 2017
Read A Night Walking Through Mirrors CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jondo CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017
Read "Hank Mobley" CD/LP/Track Review Hank Mobley
by Greg Simmons
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "Falling Forward" CD/LP/Track Review Falling Forward
by James Nadal
Published: July 27, 2017
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Troy Collins
Published: January 26, 2017
Read "The Hive" CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "The Drive" CD/LP/Track Review The Drive
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 16, 2016
Read "Pathways" CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Jerome Wilson
Published: May 30, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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