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Artist: Brett Carson (@)
Title: Quattuor Elephantis
Format: CD
Label: Edgetone Records
Rated: *****
Quattuor Elephantis is the work of four musicians: Brett Carson on keyboard and compositions, Robert Lopez on drums, Mateo Lugo on electric guitar, and Scott Siler on vibraphone and percussion. This gives some indication of what we're in for. The label description seems a bit pretentious. 'A project of pianist Brett Carson, Quattuor Elephantis represents an intelligible entirety, dynamic and volatile, perceived through the kaleidoscopic effluence of the Four Cosmic Pillars. A brew of primeval energy is parsed and made available for consumption. Four musicians navigating constructed worlds. Psychic debris accumulates in corners of sound-space and crystallizes into intricate compositional/improvisational structures. Creation appears to organize itself, only to return once again to the Void.' Let's see if it holds up. After a long fade in, 'The Crater' unleashes a chaotic piece where different instruments come to the foreground at different times. The one that really shines here is the vibraphone, while the drums come in short bursts and everything just barely holds together. So far, we're off to a good start. 'Aluminum Elephant Machine' provides a 48 second intermission where they play a staccato piece generally in unison. 'Death Drives A Porsche' brings back the dissonance as vibraphone gives way to grinding, distorted guitar. But there is a lot of variety here, as everything goes quiet, with sparse, dreamy tones before taking off again. Next up, we have the radio-friendly title 'The Silver Amoebas Were Silent Yet Lovely in Their Exquisite Passion,' which is more sparse than the previous tracks, with bits of guitar and drums. At times musicians seem to jump out, play a bit, then recede into the background. As a drummer, I was happy to hear an honest to goodness drum solo toward the end. 'Inside Darkness / Wet Fins' is the most 'normal' composition on the track, and continues to illustrate the ease with which these musicians shift styles. The move seamlessly between dreamy, contemplative drone to spastic improve to some funk. 'And Thus The Fuzzy Trapezoid Was Born' finishes it off with sparse, staccato stabs in unison, which eventually opens up toward the end. So what do we make of the label's description? Perceived through the kaleidoscopic effluence of the Four Cosmic Pillars? Perhaps not, but they definitely fit the bill of 'an intelligible entirety, dynamic and volatile' with 'intricate compositional / improvisational structures.' If you like experimental jazz, this is one to check out.



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