DR. MiNT – Voices in the Void [TrackList follows] – Orenda 0037, 34:34 [1/27/17] ****:

The doctor is in.

(Daniel Rosenboom – trumpet; Gavin Templeton – saxophone; Alexander Noice – electric guitar, effects; Sam Minaie – electric bass, effects; Caleb Dolister – drums)

Jazz quintet DR. MiNT (yes, it’s officially spelled that way) uses an approach the band has dubbed “archistration.” The process equates to producing compositional structures in real time and allows the border between improvisation and composition to be nebulous and yet cohesive. The modernistic methodology permeates DR. MiNT’s fifth release, the 34-minute Voices in the Void. The ten pieces—which range from 1:29 to nearly seven minutes—have an evolving and involving jazz rock, electronic and freely-flowing improvisational base.

The bi-coastal group is fronted by trumpeter Daniel Rosenboom, saxophonist Gavin Templeton and guitarist Alexander Noice (all three reside in Los Angeles), alongside bassist Sam Minaie and drummer Caleb Dolister (who both live in New York City). The “archistration” style, which emphasizes both structure and exploration, is heard right from the get-go on the heavy-hitting opener “Kingdom in the Middle,” which develops alternatingly via a brief, seven-bar section outlined moments before recording. Templeton’s sax and Rosenboom’s trumpet ride above futuristic digital effects, which creates a wall-of-sound wash. The second track, “spacerobot[dance],” offsets a Stereolab-esque underpinning with a slightly neo-funk groove. While the rhythm players layer a skewed dance beat, Rosenboom and Templeton bring high energy to their sometimes-dueling horns. An IDM (intelligent dance music) inspiration is apparent on the jazz-electronica piece, “Fanfare Mécanique,” where effects and digital manipulation supply a SF incitement, like something which Sun Ra might have fashioned had he integrates some industrial music into his work.

There is both a down-to-earth and interstellar drive to the frantic and skittering “Down to One.” Noice adds riffs reminiscent of late-1970s rock, while Dolister and Minaie provide a drum ‘n’ bass-influenced rhythmic bent. “Down to One” is full-on, 21st century jazz which spirals from metal to jazz to neo-fusion. The tune rises and rises to a crescendo, only to come to a climatic standstill. Noice’s roiling and blistering guitar infuses the shortest cut, the loud, enigmatic “A Bird, an Assassin,” which is evocative of material issued by the RareNoise imprint. Others, such as the four-minute “Nymbists,” surge with knotty details which are skillfully intertwined amid conversant and unusual configurations, a balancing act which DR. MiNT is superbly good at accomplishing. On the flip side, the group can also easily flit into warm, comfortable tones, such as the down-tempo “Empyrean,” where minimalism and delicate filigrees float across the nearly three-minute piece. “Empyrean,” as the title implies, has an ethereal quality. DR. MiNT conclude with another astute, atmospheric number, the pocket-sized 2:41 “Anathema,” where Templeton’s slowly-moving sax and Rosenboom’s drawn-out notes have a graceful elucidation and economy. Whereas some bands which gravitate toward full improvisation tend to be chaotic and too outward-bound, DR. MiNT always maintains a recognizable form, or organized shape, and furnish characteristics which listeners can find exhilaratingly exuberant, while DR. MiNT never loses sight of jazz’s rich background.

Kingdom in the Middle
Spacerobot [dance]
Down to One
The [Two] [Three] Sun Erupts
Fanfare Mécanique
A Bird, an Assassin

—Doug Simpson