Thu, Mar 17, 2016 - Page 11 News List

CD reviews



The Rarity of Experience, Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band, No Quarter

Chris Forsyth is a certain kind of rock guitar player: a stickler with limitations, a scrappy and mystical historian. He cares about tone and song form, and invests heavily in the long solo. But he is not a virtuoso, and he keeps aggression and chaotic noise close at hand. His music humanizes the element of control in rock classicism, basically. It turns it into woolly but disciplined ritual.

Born in the early ‘70s and based in Philadelphia, he gravitates toward a certain kind of music made in the first 10 years of his life, a nexus of garage-punk and long, organic jamming. Often that means the band Television, and even if you have only a passing familiarity with Television’s record Marquee Moon, you will find elements of The Rarity of Experience, Forsyth’s new double-CD with his Solar Motel Band, weirdly familiar.

Those elements start with his guitar playing: a trebly tone; careful trills and tremolo; short melodic figures cutting across the simple chord progressions; his weaving around the playing of the band’s other guitarist, Nick Millevoi, building up toward dramatic peaks. Forsyth studied guitar with Television’s Richard Lloyd in the 1990s, but the influence of the older band seems to go beyond soloing style, spreading out into composition and arrangement.

The Rarity of Experience contains a lot: a first disc full of tense and dramatic jamming with neutral singing by Forsyth, and an instrumental second disc, generally more pensive and stretched-out, with Daniel Carter playing trumpet and saxophone on half of it. This part isn’t so much like Television: It evokes aspects of Miles Davis’ electric period and various kinds of rock-beyond-rock — Slint, Sonic Youth and so on. You sense Forsyth’s control easing a bit here, and the music grows deeper and better.


Back Home, Melissa Aldana, Wommusic

When a gifted young jazz musician holds one hero above the rest, it can be hard to see past the anxiety of influence. Back Home, the fourth and finest album by tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, shows what can happen when that dynamic no longer feels so fraught. It’s a supremely focused statement that makes no attempt to blur its lineage and yet feels largely unburdened by legacy.

Aldana, 27, hails from Santiago, Chile, where she studied the saxophone with her father. But the home in Back Home refers to the midcentury style of Sonny Rollins, her North Star on the instrument. The title track, an original feint-and-parry routine between tenor saxophone and drums, recalls the playful gallantry of a Rollins album like Way Out West, from 1957.

As on that classic album — and Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio, released on Concord in 2014 — the instrumentation here consists of tenor saxophone, bass and drums. Aldana has retained the warmly assured bassist Pablo Menares and brought in the agile, flowing drummer Jochen Rueckert, calling not only on their hair-trigger alertness but also their skills as composers, with two songs apiece.

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