Monday, January 10, 2005

Nels Cline, Andrea Parkins and Tom Raney - Ash and Tabula: Out Trios Vol. 3 (Atavistic, 2004)

This is the latest volume in Atavistic’s experimental music series “Out Trios” and features electric guitarist Nels Cline along with pianist, accordionist and samplerist (?) Andrea Parkins and drummer Tom Raney on a series of freely improvised pieces. The group conjures up some very interesting musical textures – Parkins plays a key role with her ability to shift between different instruments on the fly and use the sampler to mix and match different sounds. She is something of an unheralded improviser and composer (and in integral part of Ellery Eskelin’s fantastic trio) who will hopefully get more exposure for her efforts on this CD. Her use of the piano on some tunes provides a quiet interlude amidst the improvisational chaos, something like the eye of a hurricane.

That’s not to say the entire disc is just squealing free music, the songs included all have melodic moments. Cline is a veteran of this type of setting with his own groups and also his discs with Kevin Sarno which have focused on the outer fringes of improvisation. Raney anchors the music on drums, encouraging the music forward. This is challenging music to listen to, but fans of free improvisation should find much to savor here.

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