Thursday, January 10, 2013

Innercity Ensemble - Katahdin (2012)

Innercity Ensemble

Radek Dziubek - laptop, pady
Rafał Iwański - gongs, percussion
Wojtek Jachna - trumpet, flugelhorn
Rafał Kołacki - gongs, percussion
Artur Maćkowiak - guitar, synthesizer
Tomek Popowski - drums, percussion
Kuba Ziołek - guitar, sampler, voice

Tomek Pawlicki - flute on Ołowiane słońce
Antek Majewski - cello on Niedzieli Życia III

Katahdin (2012)

By Dirk Blasejezak

“This album was recorded in three days during an improvisational meeting in Mózg, Bydgoszcz. The idea was to capture unique sound of seven different personalities merging into one stream of free-flowing peaceful and sincere musical experience. The results of this meeting turned out very fruitful and the listening opportunity that we give to you should be as opening as creating those sounds was for us.”

“Opening” probably is the key word here! This is definitely a hard one for the Jazz Police. Katahdin goes beyond some of the borders of jazz music. Anybody who thinks that it has to swing to be jazz should better keep his hands off this record. Free jazz fans on the other hand will also have problems with this album. The Innercity Ensemble walks here on rarely explored terrain; somewhere on the intersections between some of the most important musical movements of the 20th century. 

Starting into the album my first association was: Is this new music? Are those some jazz musicians playing improvisations on Terry Riley? Because the first thing that hits the ears are patterns - percussive patterns. And it takes a while until you realise that those patterns are here to stay. One half of the band is involved in percussion and it takes the rest of the band some time to get heard. When finally on the second track the horn comes through more clearly to help the listener out every jazz fan should get a grip on this album.

This is also when the second association swept over me: The Panthalassa album with remixes of Miles Davis by Bill Laswell, and the (quieter) music from Miles Davis’ electric phase in general. And this kept coming whenever trumpet and drums are more present although this is in no way comparable with the 60ies or 70ies but truely a work of the 21st century. 

And there’s another influence I’m not exactly sure of (maybe that’s only me); and I had to search a while through my not so often enjoyed music until I found what faintly shines through: at some time after listening twice or three times through the whole album I was reminded of some music I hadn’t put on for more than a decade: consumed by Ritchie Hawtin aka Plastikman. For me that was the missing link - if you can imagine something in-between the patterns of the minimalists, the minimal techno and some dark ambient influences you might get a picture of this recording. This is not any kind of fusion, this is rather an amalgam comprising something new. Something very exciting! 

I’m afraid though that this my also be one of the problems of this album: there is no confined audience for this. It gets even harder when gongs and other percussion in combination with voice and samples create a sound that takes you to places far east. (Although I think that I am mislead as Katahdin is a mountain in Maine, USA, but I have to admit that my knowledge of the Indian traditional music is rather restricted.)

Katahdin indeed is “peaceful and sincere” music by some well known Polish musicians that could already be heard in projects like Hati, Contemporary Noise Sextet, Sing Sing Penelope, and many more. A very fruitful get-together it seems when you think of the two other releases in 2012 (i.e. Odrzutowce and the self titled album presented by Milieu L'Acéphale). What’s even more interesting is, that all three were recorded at the Mozg club in Bydgoszcz in August 2011 - it seems they had a very creative time there. But please do not mix these recordings up with the video of Przesilenie (which is often presented for this project) - on this album you find completely different material. And I do hope that there will be many explorative listeners out there - I would definitely recommend this to anybody, not only jazz lovers. In the end the good thing about music crossing borders is that it’s also capable of uniting listeners from different directions. And Katahdin is definitely able to achieve this!

One example from this album (available as a free download):

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