A primordial tempest of rhythm—delivered within the type of a tumbling wave of drums and a hovering guitar solo—introduces SSWAN, a jazz supergroup composed of some of the brightest stars within the free constellation of U.S.-based free improvisers. Its members—saxophonist Patrick Shiroishi, guitarist Jessica Ackerley, trumpeter Chris Williams, bassist Luke Stewart, and drummer Jason Nazary—have collaborated in varied capacities for fairly a while. Shiroishi has recorded duo outings with three of the opposite members, and Nazary combined Williams’ album Dwell earlier this yr. On Invisibility Is an Unnatural Catastrophe, they harness their collective histories to ship a gripping debut, constructing unbelievable types that seize every of their distinctive textural viewpoints.
The file’s title observe serves as SSWAN’s slow-building roll name. Nazary and Ackerley’s opening duet absorbs Shiroishi effortlessly; his dense flurry of notes pairs up in dizzy concord with the guitarist’s chordal slashing. Williams and Stewart enter collectively, then cut up aside. Williams winds out slowly, seasick and looking out. Stewart bellows groaning punctuation. You’ll be able to hear the collected years of understanding between the gamers kicking in as they disconnect and reassemble, every taking delicate care to protect the others’ finely honed voices earlier than the cacophony swells and dissipates, ending in a parabolic mirror picture of the start. Nazary faucets out shimmering cymbal splashes and Ackerley crawls gently over the fretboard.
The anxious thrill of the title observe’s frayed assault settles into grounded stillness on “Sample Phases.” The following scene in Invisibility’s triptych, it brings out every participant’s well-documented capability for tactile ambient sprawl. Taken at a simmer, SSWAN have interaction in a recreation of shadow puppetry on the acoustic limits of their devices, leaving pitch by the wayside and portray with their timbral outlines. Saxophone and trumpet swirl with breath; pick-scraped guitar strings clang like a detuned phone. One member—it’s unattainable to inform who—drops their instrument fully and gives up a hissing noise just like one you’d use to lure in a cautious cat. It is a spellbinding, adventurous 11 minutes that coaxes you ever deeper into your headphones.
The opener’s frenetic roar and the second observe’s affected person, near-electronic rebuttal doc a gaggle working to interrupt out of their established sonic relationships by jamming in two distinct narrative modes: Whereas they work steadily towards a blended identification, they ceaselessly veer off right into a collection of fascinating aspect conversations.
The album’s nearer, “A Miracle’s Value,” parlays the experiments of the primary two acts right into a 17-minute exhale that buzzes with a religious hum. The final 5 minutes are a wonderfully paced six-legged race towards the horizon. Stewart’s bowed bass grinds out a sturdy basis, with Ackerley’s billowing chords boosting the horns and drums into spiraling ecstasy. Williams shines most of all, his flowing leads guiding the quintet onward like a battle cry. Recorded in 2020, Invisibility is an Unnatural Catastrophe is a now-distant scratching of the floor from a quintet that has but to reconvene, an anthropological dig preserved on the tantalizing cusp of a scientific breakthrough. Because the solar units on this primary recording, the glow of their shared eureka second burns brilliant.
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