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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Blaise Siwula, Harvey Valdes & Gian Luigi Diana - Tesla Coils (2014) ****½

By Paul Acquaro

When live electronics are well done the results are often unique and rewarding, which just so happens to be the case with exciting electro/acoustic trio Tesla Coils. Comprised of sax, electric guitar and laptop, these skilled and daring musicians bring to life the brilliant Tesla coil metaphor. Like cool blue lightening bolts trapped in a glass sphere - painless to touch but alarmingly responsive - the trio creates a contained tempest together.

Between the freely improvised interactions of the trio, Blaise Siwula's melodic saxophone lines, Harvey Valdes' crackling textural guitar playing and Gian Luigi Diana's thoughtful live sampled remixing, the music grows in the most unusual ways. Listening alone to Siwula, you can imagine a classic free jazz blowing session, to Valdes you hear noise improv and rapid fire single note lines, but mix it in with the laptop and you have a new thing altogether.

Highlights on the album abound but what is most interesting is how Diana creates a third instrument (or more!) through the juxtaposition the other two instruments. Listen closely in 'Secondary Coil' at how around the 5 and 1/2 second mark there now two saxophones bouncing off of each other, or the brittle crackle of the guitar at the beginning of “Discharge Terminal’. Through out the 3/4 hours of the album there is hardly a dull moment. If you get a chance to hear them live you won't be disappointed either - this is a crackling group.