Leo Records always gets its props from yours truly as they will cheerfully release such essential madness as the Cecil Taylor (or 'C.T.') String Quartet, et al. Like many other small but well-known experimental Jazz labels, much of what they put out has very few Jazz identifiers, but to their credit they couldn't care less. Another such is this CD, individualist to a fault, and that's the kind of thing I like. Hopefully you will too.
Brennan, pianist and keys player, joins guitarist Doran and percussionist extraordinaire Heral for a mulligatawny of smeared electric leads, pointillist pianissimo, manic humor, much use of the classic echo box, a dash of Satie, and a large dollop of the sorely missed John Abercrombie/ Dave Holland/ Jack DeJohnette trio from the late 1970s. Heral is the crux of the funny bits, given his ability with Tuvanesque gargling ("Opera Perdu"), tesseraturic alto whiz (ditto), anything bangable and high cymbal literacy. He would have fit nicely in Guigou Chennevier's hebephrenic 1970s/80s group Etron Fou Leloublan (think Captain Beefheart with a French accent and a bicycle fixation). Contrast this with Brennan's far more austere contributions (switching back and forth on "m=ec Squared" from electric to acoustic piano and essaying completely different personalities on each voice): not that a subtle humor does not leak through from him too on the odd moment. For an example of that, hear Brennan's distant melodica under Doran's multiple guitars (some scratched, some chimed, some fed back, and one in particular recalling Ralph Towner drifting through Oregon territory) in "Voltage Oscillator." This one'll make you dizzy if you aren't sitting down. Don't look for a compositional sense of place; at one point you may think you're on a grand tour of Barcelona with famed accordionist Kepa Junkera, but the next minute Heral's cooly precise cymbals are urging Doran and Brennan into ever greater tonic outrages. Each is all too willing to oblige. The fellows essay greater reflectivity in "Mind Matters," a dream of melodica feedback, lengthy fat organ chords washing this way and that, and Doran doing his best Henry Kaiser bottleneck attack. He takes no prisoners. And no, during the big finish that is not an alto sax imitating the vocal tone of famed British actress Patricia Routledge, that's Heral again. Some hot Jimmy Smith-like Hammond organ there too. Brennan and Heral trade 'square roots' (as opposed to fours or eights) on e-piano and talking washboard, respectively, during "Tribal Link - One" but before you've had a chance to take that in, on we go to "To the Peak (and back)" wherein Brennan zithers his piano strings to a walking Heral beat and cool measured acoustic phrases from Doran. Subtle madness, but madness anyway. And 'Envelope Generator' wittily recalls, of all things, the early Tony Williams Lifetime (?!) with stellar guitar picking and more hot Hammond work. 'Never a dull moment' don't hardly cover it. And I could go on.
TRIANGULATION is not one of those CDs about which I can say, "You know if you like this already." No way. Many barriers between musics of varying European cultures are manhandled, pockmarked and thrown down with casual rudeness hereupon, but most of them deserve it, so no matter. Reread my list of possible influences above, and if you're of a mind, leap in with both feet. I think you may enjoy.
by Kenneth Egbert
Jazz Now Interactive November 2004 Vol 14 No. 7 - Table of Contents
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