Saturday, November 12, 2016
Lina Allemano's Titanium Riot - Kiss The Brain (Lumo Records, 2015) *****
There is this backlog of music I still need to review. And among the albums that I listened to a zillion times over the past year, but without reviewing, is this one. And more will follow.
Canadian trumpeter Lina Allemano surprised us last year with this release, called "Kiss The Brain" with Ryan Drivers on analog synth, Rob Clutton on bass and Nick Fraser on drums. On her previous album, she explored the boundaries between inside and outside playing, "abstract lyricism" as I called it, hard to define actual themes, yet with structured and arranged parts anchoring the combined soloing.
She surprises us because the music on "Kiss The Brain" radically diverts from this approach into completely unknown territory, for a fully improvised performance. Drivers' synth is one of the most discerning sounds on the album, adding surprises all across the album, sometimes with flute-like beauty, sometimes raw and rough and brutal and ear-piercing, scraping, gnashing and grinding, supported by the wonderful free pulse of both bass and drums, who create fluent dynamics to support the wonderful beauty of Allemano's playing. Her voice is pure, in the sense that it is authentic, and she shows the breadth of her skills here, the incredible balance between muscular blasts and stutters and groans on the one hand and then the jubilating, moaning, singing, soaring lyricism on the other, sounding always right and surprising too, in a kind of miraculous contrast and harmony with the synth and the rhythm section. That results in a strange dynamic of expansion and contraction, or rather of the endless tension of trying to get liberated from confinement, a kind of musical chiaroscuro, especially on the dark "Fumes". The sounds hesitate, waver, tremble, oscillate ... and then they seem to break through this strange sonic universe with tenderness and soft warmth.
This is Allemano's album, and her voice is surely the strongest and most in the spotlight, yet the interaction among the four musicians is exceptional. The overall sound is contained, controlled and free, all tracks sounding like little stories, with rich suspence and shifting emotions. And it is especially this, the deep-felt emotions, that make this album so wonderful.
Don't miss it!