Sunday, May 04, 2014

Bogan Ghost - Zerfall (Relative Pitch)

Bogan Ghost is Liz Allbee on trumpet and Anthea Caddy on cello and 'Zerfall' is one pleasant, totally absorbing surprise. "Surprise" if only because of my limited prior exposure to their music. I happened to have heard them both as part of the Splitter Orchestra (and a subset or two thereof) last year at St. Merri in Paris but still, I wasn't quite prepared for the music encountered here.

I guess the main unexpected (and very welcome) aspect is the degree of concision in play and the fact that each of the nine tracks, to me, has a real sense of purpose, a clear idea as to what it's about. Long tracks in improvised music are almost automatic, have been for a long time. While of course this is often appropriate, sometimes it feels obligatory and the listener gets the idea that paring things down time-wise would have been highly beneficial. I'm not sure to what extent the music here is free-improvised (I get the feeling there's some structural organization involved though I could easily be wrong), but the track lengths are around 4-6 minutes each, I think (no times given and I haven't sat and watched my display) and in every instance, the duration seems perfect, especially in the few that veer more toward a kind of efi approach, "The Gates", for instance. More often the general tone is dark, brooding and exceedingly rich, conveying a strong, grainy cinematic quality; the first and last tracks include ambient recordings used to great effect. Allbee's trumpet tends to stay in its lower ranges whether she's using breath tones, burbles or, rarely, standard pitches. And Caddy's cello, almost always bowed is right there with her, somber, plumbing great depths (even when in rasping mode), bearing marvelous layers of detail; some of the striking moments occur when the pair are both way, way down there, growling and humming in tandem, subterranean, forbidding and fantastic. When Caddy does pluck notes, as on the deliciously umbral "The Absence", with Allbee vocalizing disturbingly via her trumpet, I picked up the slightest hint of "Bitches Brew"--nice. There's not a track here that doesn't pack some punch.

Both the musical choices and the decision to render them in discrete batches add up to an excellent, relatively listener-friendly offering. Don't let this one slip under the radar.

I don't see it listed at the Relative Pitch site just yet but I imagine it will be soon.

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