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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Nava Dunkelman & gabby fluke-mogul - Likht (Relative Pitch Records, 2023)

By Jury Kobayashi

Anytime new footage of gabby fluke-mogul and Nava Dunkelman’s duo is uploaded to YouTube I listen to it as quickly as I can. Formed in 2014, Likht marks the duo’s first album together and is a testament to their years of collaboration.

There is something fresh about this release and yet it also carries the experience of an ensemble that has played together for years. Dunkelman’s percussion sounds like an orchestra-a world of its own- with each sound meticulously placed and fiercely executed. fluke-mogul’s violin is instantly recognizable for fans of their work. Their approach goes beyond the act of playing violin, they hum, moan, play the backside of the violin, crunch, chop, and summon sounds into the moment of execution. Like the description accompanying the album states, there is a ritual being performed. The ritual is not a cloistered one, it is grounded in the mud of existence and is felt in the bones.

My favourite track might be the final track, Lust. fluke-mogul’s transforms Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman and deconstructs it. Their playing is complex and the contours of the Coleman’s melody dissolve beautifully under fluke-mogul’s bow. What stands out for me in this track is Dunkelman’s playing, who must have 30 hands. I hear small percussion, cymbals, toms, bass drums, gongs, and the sound of a rubber mallet bowing a snare drum. Percussion here becomes an equal voice in the music, and often is the star itself of the track.

I have heard fluke-mogul in interviews describe the influence of Ornette Coleman’s work on their playing and maybe harmolodics (musical philosophy and methodology invented by Coleman) is the best way to understand this album. From Coleman’s words, rhythm becomes melody, harmony becomes rhythm, and vice versa-all these musical elements carry equal weight and shift syntactically throughout the album. In Prime Time for Harmolodicspublished by downbeat in1983 he states “Harmolodics is the use of the physical and mental of one’s own logic made into an expression of sound to bring about the musical sensation of unison executed by a single person or with a group”. Each of these artists has a unique musical voice which could be referred to as unison following Coleman’s definition. Their unison appears to be both personal and collective in that each musician’s sound individually supports the whole of the music. Whether either fluke-mogul or Dunkelman were thinking about harmolodics when they made this album is not the point, rather,I am invoking harmolodics to help highlight the uniqueness of their sound individually and collectively.

This album is beautiful and striking and leaves me wanting a follow up album. The playing is impeccable and captivating. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of experimental or improvised music.


Steve Reynolds said...

Maybe one of the most played recordings for me of the past year. Fortunate to see gabby play live often as well as Nava. Looking forward to seeing the duo live hopefully sooner than later

Richard said...

Same here, Steve Reynolds. My most played album. I love gabby's solo work, but adding percussion lifts the music to a whole new level.

Steve Reynolds said...

Was able to say hello to gabby after the Nate Wooley Mutual Aid show this week. Told her I’m upset I will miss the show with her, Nava & Fred Frith on 10/4 as I have tickets for Mat Maneri’s quartet. Good time to live near NYC. Seeing Frith 2 other nights😊