Building - "Vol. 1: You Say Potato, I say Potata"
(InstrumenTales Records 2002)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: October 2003
Bret Hart's Duets series of recordings have been well covered in Aural Innovations. The man is an enthusiastic networker who manages to arrange collaborations with a variety of improvisers, the results always being interesting and often quite magical. Bret's newest project, entitled Building, expands on the duets format by including larger ensembles of musicians, all collaborating by mail. And what a debut! Check out this monstrous roster of artists from the free-improv scene: Bret Hart on mandolin-harp, ‘barstool-o'caster' and prepared 4-string guitar, Ernesto Diaz-Infante on electric bass and vox, Greg Segal on bowed device, guitar preparation, wind guitar, guitar, slide guitar and ebow, Eric Wallack on slide guitar, and Ethan Sklar on acoustic guitar (Sklar is new to me).
But there's a lot happening here. Acoustic Blues, bubbling atmospherics, drones, spacey efx, scratching and various other string manipulation and sound creation. Avant-garde free-improv mingles comfortably with haunting soundscapes. Melody coexists with abstract sound creation. There's a ‘psychedelia for the avant-garde' aspect to much of the music, like the drugged, dreamlike, Bluesy song quality of "Corks", surrounded by careful string attacks and a Beefheart-in-space feel. "The Tcho-Tcho People" is similar, though accompanying the song are wrenching guitar, rumbling alien spacecraft efx, and general freakiness. We're treated to the John Fahey/Klaus Schulze marriage of opposites on tracks like "Dare Ye T' Attend". The ensemble go completely into avant-space realms on the 16 minute voyage, "Hello Dalai". And "Temple" is an equally spaced out mixture of cosmic and avant-garde elements.
It sounds a bit strange writing it down, but close listening reveals one of those beautiful gloms of styles and sounds that come together into a cooperative whole. And I don't mean morphing or blending or anything like that... each musician stands firmly in his own space. But each part is an integral component of the outcome. Atmospherics and mood are important elements, and combined so seamlessly with the free-improv stylings makes for a powerful listening experience. There's much here to please fans of any of the participating artists, and it's clear that Bret is really on to something with this project. I can't wait to hear what Volume 2 brings.
For more information you can visit the InstrumenTales web site at:
Email Bret Hart at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Eric Wallack at: email@example.com.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz