Culture Rover

# 17 - Hopscotching the Spheres

Cooper-Moore and Assif Tsahar, America
Assif Tsahar, Mat Maneri, Jim Black, Jam
Cooper-Moore, Tom Abbs, Chad Taylor, Triptych Myth
Assif Tsahar and Tatsuya Nakatani, Come Sunday
(Hopscotch Records)

A feeling of peeking in on a bigger sonic universe. The sounds here one small view of a topography that ranges for miles. This music always makes me feel as if I've joined something already in motion, as if there was a lot going on before the particular track started and a lot that will happen after I turn my ears to something else.

Is that what makes this music seem like the music of the spheres? It has an epic quality. Even when grooves aren't pounded into your head, there is an insistent groove, a rhythm buried deep inside the the dissonance, the improvisation, the interconnections between instrument players, the quotations of old songs, the momentary alignments of melodies and harmonies by accident, so purposefully.

Tsahar's squeals and timbres lace these albums, filaments of various hues of blue. He's at his best in musical conversation with Mat Maneri's percussive swings and stabs on the violin and with Cooper-Moore's helter-skelter piano and quiet, reflective textures of angelic homemade-instrument harp plucking.

In fact, Cooper-Moore is the unsung hero of these CDs. He's up to his usual breadth of brilliant ideas and moments: racing across piano licks, building a polyrhythmic textured web on his homemade harp, and singing about putting painful America on a "homeward bound train."

The other musicians are not bad either, of course. Drummers Tatsuya Nakatani, Chad Taylor, and Jim Black sputter and whir along, skittering and stomping and chattering, groove masters without solid beats. Bassist Tom Abbs and violinist Mat Maneri turn their strings into grass blades, bamboo poles, drums.

Celestial nooks and crannies in this music, plenty of dead ends and screaming halts too of course. But the breakthroughs -- quiet and loud, small and universal -- are there if you are patient and ready to hear them.

28 September 2004

Back to #16

Go to #18