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Monday, December 16, 2013

Catherine Sikora, Han-earl Park, Francois Grillot - Tracks in theDirt (Clockwork Mercury Press, 2013) ****

By Paul Acquaro

Saxophonist Catherine Sikora's playing is not predictable, you never know where a line, or even the instrument's tone may go, and she knows how to use it to create captivating sounds. Tracks in the Dirt, a recent improvised collaboration with guitarist Han-earl Park and bassist Francois Grillot, exemplifies this restless experimentation. The recording is an enjoyable listen for open ears.

The opening track, 'Helix' contains some of my favorite moments of the recording. Sikora's soprano sax sounds like it is drawing a line from each hit of the bass, with Park coloring in the spaces between. Park, with whom she also released Cork 04-04-11, is an understated and sympathetic accompanist throughout. 

Feel the force of Sikora's playing too - halfway through the second track, 'The Chopping Block' her soprano is clear and cutting, the melodic lines spinning and swirling around Park's textures and Grillot's rhythmic pulse. 

The last track, 'Afternoon Song', begins with the ambient rustling of Parks prepared guitar (my assumption), that almost sounds like the chirping of birds. As his presence deepens, the sound of the sax and thawk of the bass, in and out if time, in-sync with abstract notions grows stronger. In these opening moments we are reminded of the chance encounters and smart musical ideas that make this recording so effective. 

Check it out on Bandcamp - take your time - it's worth it:

As a side note, also on the Bandcamp site is the album 'Lullaby for the Wolves', a collaboration with drummer Ziv Ravitz. Sikora sticks to tenor on this muscular duo recording:


Han-earl Park said...

Thanks for the review, and thanks for listening.

Just a friendly fyi: ‘Afternoon Song’ doesn’t open with prepared guitar as such. What your hearing is slide guitar (or a variant of that technique).

Thanks again for listening.