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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Samara Lubelski - Partial Infinite Sequence (Relative Pitch, 2020) ***½

By Keith Prosk

Samara Lubelski generates polyrhythms of pulses through effects-laden violin shredding on the solo Partial Infinite Sequence. For decades, the multi-instrumentalist has collaborated with alternative and experimental jazz and rock royalty like God Is My Co-Pilot, Tara Jane O’Neil (plus The Sonora Pine), Thurston Moore, Marcia Bassett, Bill Nace (who contributes the cover art), and Nate Wooley (who contributes the liner notes). Carving out a singular, often electric voice on the violin that is more rooted in folk and noise and pure sound than jazz or classical, deftly demonstrated on Partial Infinite Sequence.

From the first seconds, the sound is drowned in amplified delay-based effects. Phasing and reverberating. The feel is ghostly in its wails, cavernous in its echo, psychedelic in its altered acoustics, battish in its erratic flitting squeaking, cosmic and nocturnal. The acoustic input is most often a rapid fiddling, reducing the characteristic sustain of the violin to nearly discrete peaks and valleys of a wave, obscuring its timbral identity. The processed acoustic signals explode into electric pulses at different times behind them, not so much recognizable waves but more closely percussive echoes. And all this on a substrate of some almost inaudible longform phaser, like the hum of the amp. So there’s at least three lines heard, though at times four or five as delay seems to multiply pulses of different frequencies. It is a dense and rapid polyrhythm to pick apart.

I suspect the two tracks, both seventeen and a half minutes, are like two takes. This is labeled as free improvisation but there’s certainly a firm set of conditions for this music. The instrumentation, the technique, the effects, the time, the result. If Lubelski actually follows the idea of a sequence, it would be interesting to hear additional parts to better characterize the distinct natures of these two parts. For now, Partial Infinite Sequence showcases a dense conceptual construction of rhythm that’s well worth continued exploration from both listeners and the musician.

Partial Infinite Sequence is available on CD and digitally.