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Dec 10, 2016







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Future States, Casual Listener (Golden Brown Records)

Reading this Ottawa psych-pop band’s bio had me expecting something on the order of M83 and Minus the Bear, what with the level of experimental/jazz influences it touted. This is their debut LP, recorded in two weeks in a church turned into a studio, where they had no cutoff times and could re-dub and improv until 7 a.m. if they wanted. Sounds like fun, but more importantly, the results are exquisite, the album’s first few minutes falling somewhere between the Orb (bizarrely friendly intro track “Forward”) and some form of period-authentic Columbia House skinny-suit-and-horn-rims twee (“Apostolic”). But the drawing area is pretty spacious here, which gives us “Lulu,” a powwow between Vampire Weekend and Coldplay on Prozac. A subdued version of Yo La Tengo would be a somewhat useful comparison, but it’s more raw and yet more groove-focused than that. I know nobody knows who the Lilys are, but a lot of this sounds like variations on “Black Carpet Magic,” a lot of chill jamming, gray noise, muffled bonky piano and other oddball lo-fi subatomic things (the church bell itself was sampled, of course), all tempered with innocent, non-stupid vocal lines. Many moments of brilliance here. A+ — Eric W. Saeger





Ralph Peterson’s Aggregate Prime, Dream Deferred (Onyx Music)
CD Reviews: December 8, 2016

12/08/16



Ralph Peterson’s Aggregate Prime, Dream Deferred (Onyx Music)

The jazz drummer’s response to violence gets its mojo from the Langston Hughes poem “Harlem,” its theme and anger further propelled by the death of Peterson’s father two years ago. That’s not to imply that this is an off-the-cuff post-bop bonk-athon; led by the throwback, Dolphy-esque flute of Gary Thomas, opener “Iron Man” evokes swarms of birds flipping out over some unseen commotion, which is, if you think about it, the net effect all the awful news reports have had on most of America. But things quickly become more docile, more listenable, in “Emmanuel the Redeemer,” a fast-paced prog exercise that recalls early Sean Jones in its mercurial intelligence. Up front in this quintet with Thomas are renowned players Mark Whitfield on guitar and Vijay Iyer on piano, but Peterson seems to want a supercharged 1970s-Harlem vibe, and toward that, Thomas gets the heavy lifting. There are extended drum breaks, of course, despite the myriad physical ills Peterson has undergone over the years. Mind, all this word-noodle-salad shouldn’t dissuade casual jazz heads from checking it out; despite some brief clashy parts, it’s certainly as accessible as the next world-class bop-leaning coffee-fusion thing.





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