Review: Marco Colonna – FORAMINIFERA (Plus Timbre, Apr 1)

On FORAMINIFERA, Marco Colonna’s breaths reign supreme. There are hardly any conventional notes produced by his clarinet throughout the entire album; instead, the focus is placed on other sounds. We hear the clicks of the keys, guttural inhales, and bass-filled drones, a truly bizarre range of noises that makes it seem like Colonna is more doing battle with his instrument than playing it. Even when notes are present, they’re not really the center of attention. Instead, the listener is drawn to the mechanical clanks and percussive blows that produce the notes. Sometimes, the almost futile-sounding exhales that produce no tones strike me as similar to Anthony Braxton’s playing on the legendary For Alto; but where the latter’s attacks eventually claimed victory and broke into atonal flurries, Colonna’s often fail completely, providing us with an entirely unique set of textures to explore. While FORAMINIFERA is the first thing I’ve heard from the young musician, it cements him in my mind as a capable and captivating improviser, which will no doubt be supported by the rest of his impressive body of work.

Review: Timber Rattle – Timber Rattle (Stoned to Death, Feb 21)

The Ithaca-based doom folk collective Timber Rattle’s self titled cassette is dark, hypnotic, and apocalyptic. Constructed upon the simple combination of acoustic guitar, synth drones, and pastoral vocal layers, it’s an album that reaches something far beyond its humble beginnings. Timber Rattle is definitely repetitive, but not to a fault; instead, the focus on atmosphere rather than significant progression induces an almost trance-like state. The lyrics are unintelligible for the most part, but according to the band they are written about “land and bodies and life and death and magic and language and ritual and myth and space and cycles and animals and plants and food and poison,” a range of subjects that mirrors the music’s raw, primal nature (interview w/ Potlista). And even if the lyrics are hard to make out, the vocals possess incredible power just from their deep, primordial sonority. Yes, there is a clear oppressiveness in this music, but it’s somehow soothing, and seems to celebrate the unspoken energy contained in the things we cannot control.

Join me in seeing the band live, along with DREKKA and Dr. Zapata, at the Fuse Factory this Saturday (link to event).