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Tigersmilk - Android Love Cry

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Artist: Tigersmilk

Album: Android Love Cry

Label: Family Vineyard

Review date: Jul. 2, 2007

Rob Mazurek’s musical voice is a many-sided thing. On the cornet, his sound can move from elegant and in-the-pocket to scrappy and abstract in a confined space. When he turns to his laptop, he lets loose insect murmurs of static, billows of digital scree and pungent solitary tones. His studio records capitalize on the setting, full of overdubs and pristine production, while live he cranks the volume to full immersion levels. Cutting a path between the two is Android Love Cry, the third release from one of Mazurek’s more feral trios, Tigersmilk.

The grab-bag quality of previous Mazurek releases – a noise piece here, ambient miniature there, a post-bop groove or West Coast cool revenant cropping up occasionally – is gone, nor do the improvisations sprawl like on 2005’s From the Bottle. Instead, the 13 pieces are shorter and sparer, but just as knotty. And once again, Mazurek is in conceptual mode, putting together another ambitious song cycle much like the recently released disc from his Exploding Star Orchestra.

This time, lift-off is a novel by the Brazilian writer Helder Velasquez Smtih, also called Android Love Cry. To listeners of past Mazurek projects, the theme is familiar, plunging as it does into the nebulous zone where technology, biology and cosmic philosophy link up. The execution, too, should be familiar, as Mazurek, bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Dylan van der Schyff negotiate the tension between the acoustic and the electric, trading in equal parts improv, jazz and clattering soundscapes.

The result, as usual, is a touch on the raw side. However, the trio have compressed their interaction and trimmed the excess, with only three pieces breaking the four-minute mark. Mazurek and Co. dive in directly, “Poured Over Waves Ecstatic Charge” setting the album in motion with a percolating dialogue of jagged phrases. Later, “Already Crippled by Water and Wind” gets an urgent, near-panicked pulse from van der Schyff, Mazurek’s lyric sheaves echoing and bouncing about in a dizzying array. Also benefiting from the trio’s focus are the longer pieces. “Falling Signals Rising” is eight minutes of sublime contemplation cut with a cubist groove, while “The Last Moments After Death” carves out an ecstatic space of sustained feedback, shimmering rhythmic grids and swirls of looping cornet.

This music has more grit and rhythmic thrust than much current electro-acoustic improv, but it shares that idiom’s urge to sculpt and situate sounds clearly in a space where they can overlap and rub against each other with an almost tactile friction. The fine blend of ever-shifting textures, surprise bits of melody and twisted rhythms make this Mazurek’s most concise and coherent statement to date.

By Matthew Wuethrich

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From the Bottle

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