Thursday, November 14, 2019

Nick Dunston - Atlantic Extraction (Out of Your Heads Records, 2019)

Nick Dunston is a bassist and composer of some renowned, having received grants that have allowed him to compose the unique and genre-combining music found on this album. He is able to interweave intricate melodies with spots of freedom, full band interludes with exposed solo locations for each member of the band, and in doing so, craft a thoughtful and successful album that pulls disparate pieces into a cohesive whole. Aiding him in this endeavor are: Louna Dekker-Vargas on flute, alto flute and piccolo, Ledah Finck on violin and viola, Tal Yahalom on guitar and Stephen Boegehold on drums. The album is an intriguing mix of jazz improvisation, new music / contemporary classical and even some rock like passages. It opens with a spare section for violin or viola and percussion really building a mysterious and melancholy composition that takes this motif and uses it to explore different areas of slow, gradual progression. Other sections of the album see bowed bass or viola and flute in scouring sections of collective improvisation with free sounding percussion creating a whirling and kaleidoscopic soundscape, and other parts where gritty electric guitar can elbow in to the performance, carving sharp peaks and valleys into the flow of the music while also flaring out  long lines of neon hued sound. The sound of electric guitar and flute is unusual and creates a very appealing texture, reminiscent of certain iterations of King Crimson, weaving into a section for solo unaccompanied electric guitar, morphing into a complex improvisational section where the individual instruments and their notes and sounds reflect and refract like inside a funhouse full of mirrors, and culminating in a solo colorful and vibrant violin feature. Dunston sings on a track, developing a very effective vocal tone, low and laconic, keeping his tone and lyrics succinct amid the low violin and spare percussion. The final track is a full band blowout, very exciting and having effective and varied musical color and tone, with the musicians coming together to achieve a churning, writhing mass of improvisational excitement. Atlantic Extraction -

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