For this seventh album, the Orchestra consists of Rob Mazurek as director, composer and performing on piccolo trumpet, electronic renderings and modular synth, Damon Locks on vocals, electronics, Nicole Mitchell on flutes, Macie Stewart on violin, Tomeka Reid on cello, Joel Ross on vibraphone, Jeff Parker on guitar, Jaimie Branch on trumpet, Angelica Sanchez on acoustic and electric piano, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass, Chad Taylor and Mikel Patrick Avery on drums and percussion, and John Herndon on drum machines.
The most memorable sounds of the album are Damon Locks' recitation of his texts or poetry that, in its kind of distant and muted sound, almost acts like the Greek choir commenting on the action like in an ancient tragedy. Locks has been part of the Orchestra almost from the beginning, but his impact on this one is more elaborate and more determining. It would have been good to add the texts to the album, and they're also not to be found on the internet, unfortunately. The second most memorable aspect are Nicole Mitchell's beautiful and melodious flute parts, flying high over the complexities of the orchestra, giving the music its signature. There is not much soloing on the album, with the short exception of the guitar or the cornet. This is very much a tight ensemble effort.
Mazurek himself is the real leader, again delivering stellar and complex compositions, with wonderful arrangements guiding the twelvetet on its spectacular and joyful journey through the universe. Some of the compositions will haunt you for many days to follow, such as the incredibly agitated insistent theme of the title track, wonderfully contrasted by the calm single cornet tones. As usual Mazurek's music is beyond categorisation. It's eclectic but then so inventive and creative that it takes its own incomparable genre.
I hope will take many more years before the Exploding Star Orchestra reaches the boundaries of our universe.
Listen and download from Bandcamp.