Monday, January 15, 2018

Marker - Wired for Sound (Audiographic Records, 2017)

Marker is one of the many groups associated with multi-reed instrument player and composer Ken Vandermark. On this album, he is joined by Steve Marquette and Andrew Clinkman on guitar, Macie Stewart on keyboards and violin and Phil Sudderberg on drums. This album was recorded in Milwaukee during August of 2017 and begins with "Okinawa Bullfight (for Chantal Akerman)" which has a strong and tight rhythm from the drums and guitar with keyboard shadings. The music has a sense of urgency to it, made even more present with the addition of Vandermark's saxophone. There is a very powerful improvisation for grinding guitars and a wicked beat that underscores and supports the music. Electronic keyboards frame the sound, providing depth and texture, with biting saxophone adding grit and an element of danger that is present in the best music. The saxophone is deep toned, muscular and virile, perfect for the setting, devolving into a massive full band blowout at one point, then dropping off into abstraction. Vandermark moves to clarinet, squeaking and swirling in space, and the music turns more atmospheric, with long tones of violin. The music accelerates with Stewart shifting back to keyboard and everyone coming together for a mighty push. Vandermark's saxophone emerges with a forceful howl, leading the charge with excellent drums alongside him. "Every Carnation (for Pina Bausch)" follows with a strong full band opening for acoustic piano and scrabbling guitars with the saxophone integrating itself well, creating rhythmically complex and exciting music. The clashing piano and guitar give the music friction, and sparks some inventive interplay. Vandermark again moves to clarinet, adding subtle strokes to the musical environment, with yearning violin providing support. Guitars, violin and drums create an interesting soundscape that gains more heft from gritty tenor saxophone getting a stark and rending feature. Shimmering electric keyboards take the music in an unexpected direction, opening vistas that everyone jumps to take advantage of leading to a powerful collective improvisation, adding some epic keyboard droning to the overall sound to excellent effect. The final performance is "Doctors In The Shot (for Anthony Braxton and Bernie Worrell)" beginning with delicate guitar and clarinet, creating a delicate and intricate patchwork. Building to a choppy rhythm, the music picks up pace and volume, adding grinding guitar and steep drumming, wild electronics making for a thrilling ride. They drift into a spacier section of atmospheric violin taking a beautiful and poignant solo, before the music again blasts of dynamically for the outer limits. Stewart is very impressive on this recording moving between instruments with aplomb and adding just the right touch to the music. The band as a whole is stellar and the music that they create is thoroughly interesting and exciting. Hopefully this will be the first album of many for this excellent band. Wired for Sound - Bandcamp

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