Krononaut, She’s Analog, NERATERRÆ
Krononaut – Krononaut (tak:til, 2020)
Sitting at the point of connection between urban music, minimalism, yet channeled through free improvisation, gleaning elements of jazz and European folklore, and potentially nodding at times to psychedelia through dark and electric soundscapes, Kronanut‘s music demands multiple words, despite being comfortably coherent in the within. This creature, born after the meeting of renowned drummer Martin France and guitarist Leo Abrahams, creates a dark, pointillistic and minimal set of soundscapes with some exhilarating pinnacles of improvisation.
Martin France can be heard in many of the latest decades UK’s finest jazz recordings and has played with a wide span of artists, ranging from Evan Parker to Nils Petter Molvær and Elvis Costello. Leo Abrahams has provided guitar nuance in some Brian Eno‘s finest, worked with Imogen Heap and Jon Hopkins and is rooted in a completely different background, that can be hardly reconnected with pure jazz. Despite the differences, or maybe that’s exactly because of that, the two create a very lucky encounter that spanned two sessions. The first included multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily, this time only at the bass duties, who is well known for his collaboration with Tom Waits, Laurie Anderson and Ceramic Dog‘s Marc Ribot. The second was guested by another musician close to Brian Eno, bassist Tim Harries, Norwegian master trumpeter Arve Henriksen, who eventually came on adding overdubs also on some of the tracks of the first take as well, and saxophonist Matana Roberts. Their eponymous album is released on tak:til, a Glitterbeat label.
Hypnotic ripples of chords made by Leo Abrahams‘s clean guitar are let resonating for ages in Jena. France adds, more in substraction than in addition, sparse brush strokes and almost casual cymbals playing. On the other side, Ismaily‘s free playing forms a duo with Arve Henriksen‘s folkloric melodies. This unstructured path would easily fit in a lot of last two decades Norwegian jazz albums and it is resonating France‘s words: No one’s dictating where it is going. We are treating it incredibly carefully. That sort of music, it’s delicate. You’ve got to know what you’re doing, but at the same time not do it.
Mob Kindu hints intially to a more groovy rendition of a fractured blues from the 50s. Abrahams‘s metallic guitar plays with tuning, twists around delays and glitches that France and Harries masterfully take as starting points to gently take off for inspired improvisations. Dark, gloomy, spiky -yet playful and somewhat ironic.
Comtemplative and ruminative soundscapes, like the one opening Leaving Alhambra, might be inspired by the music of Morton Feldman, as Leo Abrahams indicates: In terms of harmonies and the almost playful but ritualistic reiterations of motifs, Feldman’s structures are not really linear in the conventional sense― they are more like refractions of a set of intervals and motifs. Contemplative rather than directional. And that was something that really interested me as a possible basis for my own improvisation. And indeed Leaving Alhambra follows that direction, moving from an almost static scenario to a slowly burning, dissonant fire of turbulent explosions that coalesce in a beatuful noise. There’s Norwegian quartet Supersilent almost showing up as an inspiration in the aggressive dialogue between the teared guitar and the bass at the end of the piece -and no surprise to find Henriksen adding his visceral wailings in the background.
Where is Harries the one who takes involuted routes that trigger unexpected guitar noises or explorative rhythmic weavings in Location 14, or Matana Roberts in the last three tracks, or Arve Henriksen adding a Jon Hassell vibe to the skinny, psycheliscape in Cold Blood, the core duo of Krononaut is rarely patronizing the music in this record. They instead choose to create minimal noises, leave them as a trail for the others to follow in a way that can easily remind what Ian Bellamy and Thomas Strønen did within their duo Food. The result is a masterfully inspired meeting of kindred spirits, who play in a intriguing niche at point of conjuntion of multiple genres.
2.Mob Kindu 04:46
3.Leaving Alhambra 04:40
4.Location 14 04:35
5.Power Law 04:59
6.Cold Blood 03:22
7.Visions Of The Cross 03:29
8.Wealth Of Nations 03:17
Leo Abrahams: Guitar / Martin France: Drums / Tim Harries: Bass (2, 4, 5, 6, 8) / Shahzad Ismaily: Bass (1, 3, 7, 9) /Arve Henriksen: Trumpet (1, 3, 6, 7) / Matana Roberts: Saxophone (8, 9, 10) / Produced and mixed by Leo Abrahams /
She’s Analog – What I Bring, What I Leave (Auand, 2020)
Lurking in area that defies genres, Italian trio She’s Analog explores the relationships between jazz improvisation and non-jazz genres the other way round. This is an area populated by such bands as BADBADNOTGOOD, Vels trio, Heinz Herbert Trio, Don Karate, all bands that keep exploration of new directions in music as key priority. She’s Analog trio aligns with the fellow explorers by playing at the core of non-jazz genres, even though they start from a solid jazz background, hiding jazz elements beneath a snowfall of contemporary noises.
Stefano Calderano at guitars, Luca Sguera, who previously released his own band Luca Sguera’s AKA‘s debut on Auand, at Fender Rhodes and synth and Giovanni Iacovella at drums follow a similar path, and possibly add a new direction, swiftly mixing post-rock elements through abstract improvisation. Since they started playing together in 2018, the debut What I Bring, What I Leave stands far away from any sense of immediacy, lest being a product of gleaning travels through very intricate improvisations.
Matrice Humain starts with an polyrhythmic pattern driven by synthetic bells, that would fit well in many math rock recordings, before leaning to a sonic assault of raw guitars and Prophet aggressiveness. Just two minutes have passed that an abrupt, disconnected free section comes in. Various noises collapse over each other, juxtaposing one aside the next. That eventually and gradually evolves in a revolving arpeggio pattern by Calderano that creates a long coda, catalyzing the two colleagues improvising over it.
In Plain Rice improvisation has an interstitial feature, it moves in between the repetitions of the main theme, played by the three while alternating sobriety and cold aggressiveness. Revolution follows the trio’s collage recipe: an intro made by a bar of arpeggios and another of fast unisons abruptly moves on to prolonged abstract improvisations, until Calderano at around the fourth minute mark starts ruminating around few chords. The ending coda is qualified with a typical post-rock emotional cadence.
One Week mixes proggy unison lines with the harsh and raw energy of a live setting, propelling the music to a sort of acid and lo-fi rendition of jazz fusion. As usual, those are just sketches, an excuse for going through moments of prolonged improvisation: occasional soundscapes created by Calderano‘s raw jagged guitars are supported by Sguera and Iacovella, until they progressively build up the brisk and twisting ending that creates a sort of neverending circle of perpetualness between the overlapping notes.
She’s Analog is more intellectual and immediate than one might think, pondering elements that are deeply rooted in the improvisation realm and conjuring them in an unusual setting. The resulting output is bold and immediate at the same time.
What I Bring, What I Leave
1.Matrice Humaine 07:24
2.Plain Rice 04:34
3.Long Distance Runners 04:46
5.One Week 08:42
6.Song #4 03:48
Stefano Calderano – guitar
Luca Sguera – fender rhodes, prophet
Giovanni Iacovella – drums
Neraterræ – Scenes from the Sublime (2020)
More than a mere exercise in descriptive music, dark ambient artist Alessio Antoni, aka Neraterræ, embarks in a journey through painting art in his Scenes from the Sublime, taking not only a glance from the exterior, but digging into the representations themselves. Sublime is the red thread that inspire the ten tracks: magnificent and maximalist expressions of the sublime. His music focuses on creating a story within each painting, within the sense of unfathomable beauty, the spell of disaster that each inspiring painting might convey.
Take the opening The Last Abjurer, inspired by the painting AA72 (1972) by Zdzislaw Beksinski: the slow development of still soundscapes, the descending muffled line in the medium register, perfectly match the visual descrition of those tall figures against a smallest man running in fear at the center of the stage. The story within the track has almost no narrative development, driving a sense of tragic inevitability. Ora take the second track, opened with a thrilling descending melody that paves the road for a slow rhythm: it’s easy to link it with the inspiring painting, Hieronymus Bosch‘s Visions of the Hereafter (1500-1503), and its tale of human perdition. The vertical boards composing the work depict the fall from Paradise to Hell and Neraterræ chooses to underline this top-bottom dialogue (more precisely moving from the visual movement from left to right) to describe, in the second part of the track, an almost still and hopeless scenario, similarly to what Bosch indicates in the dark and desperate scene of the last board.
Maximalist in perspective, while bare in rendition, Scenes from the Sublime is the second album by Neraterræ, now supported by a cast of guests in each track, including Alphaxone, Dødsmaskin, George Zafiriadis from Martyria, Leila Abdul-Rauf, Mount Shrine, Phelios, Phragments, Shrine, Yann Hagimont from Cober Ord, Xerxes The Dark.
Neraterræ – Scenes from the Sublime
1.The Last Abjurer (feat. Phelios) – Inspired by Zdzislaw Beksinski’s AA72 05:50
2.Fate Unveiled (feat. Dødsmaskin) – Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s Visions of the Hereafter 06:20
3.In Deafening Silence (feat. Phragments) – Inspired by Ilja Yefimovich Repin’s Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan 06:30
4.Thou, Daemon (vocals by Yann Hagimont from Cober Ord and George Zafiriadis from Martyria) – Inspired by Francisco Goya’s The Exorcism 05:33
5.Passion Domain (feat. Mount Shrine) – Inspired by Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog 10:40
6.The Unfathomable Lives Again (feat. Xerxes The Dark and lithophone by Yann Hagimont from Cober Ord) – Inspired by Johann Heinrich Füssli’s The Nightmare 03:33
7.Doorway to the I (feat. Alphaxone) – Inspired by Zdzislaw Beksinski’s AE78 05:56
8.The Collapse of Matter and Time – Inspired by Salvador Dalì’s The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory 05:15
9.Towards Oneiric Truths (feat. Leila Abdul-Rauf) – Inspired by Arnold Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead 04:04
10.Virtues of the Dawn (feat. Shrine) – Inspired by Joseph Mallord William Turner’s Light and Colour (Goethe’s Theory) • The Morning After the Deluge • Moses Writing the Book of Genesis 08:40