Spin Marvel – Infolding [TrackList follows] – RareNoise RNR049, 59:29 [2/24/15] ***1/2:
(Martin France – drums; Terje Evensen – live electronics; Tim Harries – bass; Nils Petter Molvær – trumpet; Emre Ramazanoglu – producer, drums (track 6))
The RareNoise label contains a roster of nonconformist artists who frequently create singular, improvisational material. Sometimes the albums fit into the wider spectrum of jazz, and other times the foundation is outside of what most consider jazz. The multinational quintet Spin Marvel is good example of the RareNoise aesthetic, and on the band’s third release, Infolding, founder/drummer Martin France (formerly of UK ensemble Loose Tubes) has assembled an hour of electro-acoustic music which is a mélange of electric jazz, abstract electronica, and free improv. Infolding was issued digitally, as a CD digipak and on vinyl LP. This review refers to the CD version.
There have been a few changes since the previous Spin Marvel project. Guitarist John Parricelli is gone and now active in other pursuits. Original bassist Tim Harries (once in Bill Bruford’s Earthworks) is joined by Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær (associated with the ECM label) and live electronics mixing engineer Terje Evensen (also from Norway). The newest member is producer/remixer Emre Ramazanoglu, who also adds drums to the final number. This unit makes a type of future jazz, fusing jazz and electronic music. An analogy might be David Torn’s oeuvre; or Brian Eno and Jon Hassell’s adventurous music—together and individually—brought into improvisational terrain. The idea is that while there is a noticeable artistic vision heard throughout the six tracks, the tunes are always disconcerting, often unpredictable, and one can never foresee what will happen from one tune to another, or during any given piece.
The nine-minute opener “Canonical” commences with a Jon Hassell-like tonality highlighted by Molvær’s digitally-processed trumpet, Evensen’s splashed and glitchy electronics, a kick drum, Tim Harries’ distorted, single-note bass and wordless voices. It evolves into a keening arrangement, with a somewhat-free-jazz tempest stimulated by Harries’ dub-reggae bassline. “Canonical,” like all of the other cuts, was recorded live, with no edits or overdubs, but was modified via Ramazanoglu’s dense postproduction processing. Thus, there is a visceral quality which may not suit everyone. There’s a similar sensibility to the eight-minute “Tuesday’s Blues,” because it also purposefully flows into a free-jazz province, albeit a tonal and linear landscape with harmonic progressions. The track is intensified by Harries’ fuzzy bass, France’s deft drumming and Molvær’s nearly-weeping trumpet. The electronic features come to the foreground during “Two Hill Town.” Initially, the eight-minute composition focuses on a mechanized, irregular groove, and then the tension slackens and a reverberating, fast-tempo drone begins, with percussive breaks, swaying bass and drum inflections, and Molvær’s otherworldly trumpet. For most of the time, France leads the group with his scarcely-controlled drums, but Molvær later drives forward with an upsurge of harsh horn discharges.
The center-point and centerpiece is the longest track, the 16-minute “Same Hand Swiss Double Pug,” which includes open space, manipulated ambience and a dreamlike mood. Harries’ bass pulses and France’s communicative cymbals instill a melodic feel, while Molvær’s echo-laden trumpet complements the mysterious characteristic of this sphinxlike ballad. A rumbling intensity eventually gushes forth with France’s battering snares and cymbals, which forces Molvær and the others into an agitated domain. The weight expands until the all-out, assaultive culmination. Infolding fittingly and flittingly concludes with “Minus Two,” which starts with a watery backdrop, then morphs into an electronically-enriched arrangement with a doubled rhythm by way of Ramazanoglu’s extra percussive padding. This eerie cut has a disarrayed demeanor due to Ramazanoglu’s remix effects, the players’ atmospheric performances, and a ghostly spookiness. As mentioned, Spin Marvel is not a band for all tastes. This is music which straddles open-ended improvisation with loose-limbed ambient music and electronica elements, which will appeal to unconventional rock music fans familiar with King Crimson or some of Bill Laswell’s ventures, rather than most jazz listeners. Unlike standard jazz undertakings, the engineering on Infolding can be more abrasive than the norm. Ramazanoglu utilizes what he describes “interactive compression” and effect processing, which allows him to sculpt the individual instruments (drums, bass, trumpet and live electronics) into larger, thick wedges of sound.
TrackList: Canonical; Tuesday’s Blues; Two Hill Town; Leap Second; Same Hand Swiss Double Pug; Minus Two.