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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wooden Plants – June ’09 (re:konstruKt, 2011) ***

 By Ananth Krishnan

The thrill of listening to music is multiplied many fold when you have no idea what to expect from an album, what sounds are going to emanate from those speakers when you hit that play button - Wooden Plants is one of such many experiences for me. Comprising of Ilia Belorukov (alto saxophone), Dmitriy Krotevich (trombone) and Andrey Popovskiy (acoustic guitar), the June '09 recording is one long 36 minute collage of sounds recorded at Experimental Sound Gallery on 20 June 2009 (so much for the album name mystery!).

What this trio has managed to create has me completely befuddled. For one none of the instruments are recognizable - I wonder, given the fact that all three musicians are credited with 'objects' along with their respective instruments, if the objects are indeed the instruments themselves. Now and then, I was able to discern the sound of a strummed chord, some percussive bits (created with what, I have no idea!) or the breathing of the alto (or was it the trombone?!!!).

Sounds you hear are - scraping, sawing, buzzing, twitching, squealing, screeching and whatever else the thesaurus can throw at you, you get the idea right? I got the same sense of loss while listening to the records by Zero Centigrade (reviewed here, here and here) but if they dabbled with the fringes of jazz then these guys have set up camp miles outside the fringes. Believe me this is very difficult music to listen to with no apparent themes or underlying motifs - it sounds random most of the times but it is very clear that the musicians have put in a lot to create these soundscapes.

Leave alone this being free jazz, this is avant-garde pushed to the limits and minimalism stretched to its tautest that definitely not everyone can enjoy. Sometimes in the wake of creating something new, boundaries are erased and paths are lost - this is one such case - I for one enjoyed the half hour ride but will I reach out for this album again and again? Probably not. But I will wait for what else this trio can offer in future.

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