Review: Taylor Rouss – Hansel’s Pies (Cosmo Sonic Collective, Apr 23)

a3534278158_10There is little to no meaningful distinction between “hunting” and murder. This is something of which any sensible, compassionate person is aware. But without the monstrous institution of camouflage-clad morons strapping masturbatory arsenals to the backs of gigantic five-mpg trucks and taking out their deep-seated insecurities and aggressions on innocent animals, we wouldn’t have game calls. Is it worth it? Absolutely not. But at least now there are amazing releases like Silly Symphonies, Vol. 1 and Hansel’s Pies to soundtrack our consistently disillusioned and demoralizing lives. On the latter, just released digitally by the newly formed Cosmo Sonic Collective, Birmingham-based improviser Taylor Rouss embarks on a series of playful solo explorations on both tenor saxophone and human-made game calls. Each named after a different type of pie (with the exception of “Lament Pie,” one of only two segments that feature recognizable conventional sax playing), the sixteen fleeting tracks are brief but boisterous breath-sketches full of unpredictable squawks, quacks, cackles, hisses, and—occasionally—actual notes. Beyond the appealing novelty of Rouss’s approach and the addictive whimsy with which he executes it, the textural presence of the calls themselves is what actually makes Hansel’s Pies so enjoyable for me; there’s a simultaneous volatility and complete inconsequence in their minuscule tweets and titters, a tearing, exhilarating harshness tempered by almost cutesy exiguity. Based on Rouss’s own description of his modus operandi, he’d be equally pleased by listeners either laughing hysterically at his music’s ostensible triviality or hushed in awed silence. But if you ask me, a little bit of both is the way to go.