Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ben Monder and Bill McHenry - Bloom (Blue Music Group, 2009)

This album was an intimate duo consisting of collectively improvised sound sketches between guitarist Ben Monder and saxophonist Bill McHenry. Although these men are at the forefront of the modern mainstream jazz scene in New York City, they leave the familiar world of post-bop jazz behind for the most part on this album as the improvisations found here were experimental, and they were presented as mood pieces rather than discrete songs. "Ice Fields" had a creepy and haunting sound with raw guitar feeding back, and caustic and grating saxophone, in a manner which evokes loneliness or isolation. "Winter" brings insistent guitar playing with saxophone blowing over it like winds shifting over a lonesome arctic plain. "Food Chain" has Monder using overdubbed guitar and loops making for a shape shifting base that is an ever-changing pattern for Mchenry's saxophone to probe. There was a cinematic feel here, like something from a science fiction movie taking place on an unusual alien landscape. The music on this album was meditative and thoughtful, and outside for the realm of my normal listening so I found it hard to describe. The enigmatic nature of the music was unusual and unique and speaks well of the musicians as they try to investigate new sonic territory.
Bloom -

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