Friday, February 11, 2011

Weasel Walter, Mary Halvorson and Peter Evans - Electric Fruit (Thirsty Ear, 2011)

Three of the most adventurous musicians on the contemporary improvisation scene, drummer and percussionist Weasel Walter, guitarist Mary Halvorson and trumpeter Peter Evans combine for a fascinating album of collective improvisation that is entirely impossible to categorize (in a good way.) The song titles and the wonderful album artwork give a science fiction/steampunk air to the proceedings, opening with "Mangosteen 3000 A.D." that features splintered, fragmented trio improvisation and sputtering trumpet over strong guitar. Evans' strong brass takes command and converses with Halvorson's guitar in a natural and free flowing manner. "The Stench of Cyber-Durian" begins with fast paced and fragmented collective improvisation, developing into exciting interplay. Trumpet bubbles to the surface before raw and distorted guitar bites through the maelstrom leading to explosive collective improvisation. Things are dialed back a little bit on "The Pseudocarp Walks Among Us" with its light and nimble trumpet, subtle guitar and choppy drums. "Scuppernong Malfunction" signals a return to the scattered free nature of the music that pervades much of the disc. After a strong section of trumpet and drums interacting, urgent guitar fills in with great facility. The lengthy "Yantok Salak Kapok" develops in dynamic movements between spacey sections and driving improvised music. Long abstract sections are punctuated by bursts of intensity. "Metallic Dragon Fruit" ends the album on a quieter note with light cymbals and probing guitar inviting breathy trumpet for commentary. This was a very adventuresome and experimental album that succeeds quite well. Although the song titles might suggest a campy attitude, the music is quite serious and the trio listens to each other closely and develops unusual and thought provoking soundscapes. Electric Fruit -

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