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Monday, April 18, 2022

The Relatives - The Relatives (Tripticks Tapes, 2022)

By Keith Prosk

T.J. Borden, James McKain, and Leo Suarez freely play two sidelong tracks for cello, tenor sax, and percussion on the trio’s debut recording, The Relatives.

McKain and Suarez have recorded together on the duo The Video Taped Man and on The Running of the Bulls with Kevin Murray (percussion), Jared Radichel (contrabass), and Tom Weeks (alto sax). Other shared documents are sparse but some recorded reference points for Borden might include his work with MIVOS Quartet or a realization of Matt Sargent’s Tide with Erik Carlson.

This is high energy, fiery. Propulsive in its consistently elevated speed and/or volume with shifts in momentum most often signaled in texture. Hoarse horn’s buzzing fly shawm and bellicose purr, sax kisses and wet raspberries, folk-inflected triadic spirals like dancing satyrs flute, warbling vibrato conjuring ghostly overtones with strings sawing, plucking tripping over itself, and wooden growls with a percussive menagerie of nervous sounds, stick clicks, stray snare hits, and wood block pops from which sinister seducing grooves might appear recalling some dark cave dance like Liquid Liquid. The emphasis on texture makes this not another blowing session. And they summon a sonorous depth not just in immediately sounded textures but beating patterns cultivated from ethereal harmonic play and some siren song that seems close to a pure sine tone. A stunning balance between driving force and diverse hues.