vendredi 14 août 2009

Doug Wieselman + Jane Scarpantoni + Kenny Wollesen = Trio S

(Zitherine, 2002)

Between them, clarinettist Doug Wieselman, 'cellist Jane Scarpantoni and drummer Kenny Wollesen have played with nearly everyone who has set foot on a New York stage in the last ten years. But while it would be hard to predict exactly what a collaboration between these protean session musicians might sound like - their credits include Ellery Eskelin, John Zorn, The Kamikaze Ground Crew, Patti Smith and the Beastie Boys - the self-titled debut from this trio still comes as a surprise. The disc is a collection of low key sound paintings about water composed by bandleader Wieselman.
Unlike say, Charles Hayward's many water - themed songs, which conjure up images of groaning decks and stormy nighttime seas, the music of Trio S - as the cool blue washes of the cover watercolour suggest - is the very image of placidity. According to Wieselman, the predominantly accoustic, instrumental pieces "come from perceived melodies form water sources", a phenonmenon that " is barely audible but can be heard undere th right circumstances". Accordingly, most of the music was inspired by the "melodies" of specific bodies of water: a beach off Majorca, the Kamogawa river in Kyoto, the confluence of two streams in Washington state.
Whether you've been to these particular places or not the group's beautifully languid performances evoke their subject remakably well. And, as with most good sound paintings, the music tends to cohere as an indivisible thing that's haard to think of as a 'performance'. Picking out the sounds of individual instruments is almost beside the point. Nevertheless, the playing here is gently brilliant, with melodies hinted at rather than trumpeted, and development moving at a flowing, leisurely pace.
Metallics are used sparingly, with Wollesen generally emplaying hand-percussion and shakers rather than trap drums, and soft mallets rather than drumsticks. With typical modesty, the major 'work' of the collection, the eight - movement composition "Anthony's River" (based on a simple melodic fragment that came to Wieselman in a dream) clocks in at just under ten minutes. This music can work its way into your subconscious to the point where you almost forget you're listening to it.

Dave Mandl (Wire)


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