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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weasel Walter, Mary Halvorson, Peter Evans - Electric Fruit (Thirsty Ear, 2011) ****½

By Paul Acquaro

What makes this excursion into improvised mayhem so compelling? There is no reason that I can rationally put forth to explain how and why "Mangosteen 3000 A.D." should be listened to at all. It's not neatly defined as jazz, rock, post-rock, pre-jazz or rife with beautiful melodies and dazzling harmonies. Rather, Evan's trumpet bifurcates into spittle and inspiration, Halvorson's guitar slips and shimmies, and Walter's free ranging percussion somehow keeps it all together. Clean toned runs crash into thick distorted chords, lines shatter into dazzling arrays of tiny shiny notes, this recording can dupe the senses with its spiraling helixes of sound.

Electric Fruit is a celebration, a joyous racket, a jumble of adjectives and superlatives running roughshod on the expected. The songs are ever shifting and building explorations of texture, tonality and expression. There are moments of beauty too, with the guitar providing delicate backdrops for muted melodies. From the cover art of an orange contraption, presumably electrified, to a phantasmagorical arrangement of verbiage for song titles ('The Stench of Cyber-Durian', 'The Pseudo-carp Walks Among Us'), to the free spirited music within, it would seem that such a potent brew could go so wrong, yet it could not be better.

Halvorson continues to reinvent the guitar, playing with an instantly identifiable voice that eschews cliché or formula. Evans coaxes all sorts of sounds that are not usually found in the trumpet and Walters provides accents and beats in places perfectly unexpected. For example, 'Yantok Salak Kapok', finds Evans inventing an extended melody over assorted scattered pulsing percussion, while Halvorson bends tones, shoots out tonal clusters and smears chords around the sonic canvass. Halfway through this dynamic epic, the musicians individual voices begin coalescing into, well, I suppose a giant orange outfitted with pipes, wires and a thirst for adventure.

This is an album that is well worth the experience.

Listen and download from eMusic.

Listen to some samples:

or on their website.



Anonymous said...

I'm glad that I can finally read a review of Weasel Walter's album on this site. He is a great artist.

Richard said...

Just picked this up. It is seriously good.

I had read a lot about Mary Halvorson here and other places, and was looking for a good first buy. She is great, as advertised. She is doing genuinely new things on the guitar, and has a great sound.

The nice surprise is her two colleagues. Terrific percussion by WW. (I wonder if his friends call him Weasel!)

Anonymous said...

One would do well to check out this trio's live performance videos.

Stanislaw Bobritsky said...

Nice recording 8)