Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Splatter - Scraffiti (Citystream, 2011)

Splatter (band) 


Anna Kaluza - alto saxophone
Noel Taylor - clarinets
Pedro Velasco - guitar
Michael Caratti - drums

Scraffiti (Citystream 2011)



As you can read in the liner notes: scrafitto is a decorative technique in which, after applying a number of layers, one stratches through the outer surface to reveal the different surfaces hidden underneath. It's a sort of a negative drawing, where the artist instead of adding the marks removes material in order to reveal the possibilities. Since most often used in ceramics and pottery it's an art that demands swiftness and allows no mistakes - there are no do-overs, and the smallest one can ruin the whole success. All that makes it not only a perfect metaphor of an audio recording (immagine the needle etching the music onto the vinyl or a wax cylinder) but also of the nature of improvisation.

The disc contains 16 tracks (just one over 4 mins) and the band seem to flourish within this miniature form. There's a clear chemistry within the group, a close interplay, as all the instruments complete each other's sound. Take 'd-lite' with delicate tin percussion, breathing whisper of the saxophone and gentle unisono by guitar and clarinet. There's something pure, pristine about the way the band plays, as improvisations share the same level of clarity of structure, completely self-conscient of its compact form. They emerge as a shape slowly appearing in a mist, just to dissappear again.

There are some frenetic moments of fiery exchanges ("Alarums & Ecursions", "Fresh Squalls", tricky lines of "Lobster Quadrille"), but otherwise there's a peacefull, soothing quality to this music. Listen to the gentle percussive shadings and elegant melody in "The Far Side" (by Taylor), followed by a spiralling lines of alto and clarinet ("Feeding Frenzy"). The delay effect of Velasco's guitar slows down the passing of time, as if it was suspended, and this effect is only enhanced by Caratti modest playing as he tends to just add colours instead of rhythm. And within this suspended time in there's a space for intimate dialogues between Kaluza's sax and Taylor's clarinet ("Low Thoughts"). Splatter seems to be a four-bodied one-mind entity, the communication, the mutual understanding, the almost hypnotic ability to follow each other's ideas - it's all here, crystal clear.

This music soothes your soul, it allows you to travel slowly between the stars. In fact it's quite uncanny how subtle and melodic those improvisations are, how accessible this music remains, while mantaining this elusive, emotionally gripping quality of the improvisation. Or maybe the term of a real-time composition would fit better? Never mind the terms, poetry doesn't need words.

A sample of Anna Kaluza play:


By Bartek Adamczak



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