4 out of 5
Label: First Terrace Records
Produced by: Guiu Llusa Melendez (sound engineer, Pierre Bastien / Cabo San Roque side), Adrian Northover & Dave Tucker (recorded and mixed by, Homler, Northover, Tucker side)
Even with an included description that outlines how experimental electronic group Cabo San Roque plugged some type of massive machine of their creation into Pierre Bastien’s mechanismos, I can’t wrap my head around it. Not that I really understand how Bastien does what he does, and continues to make it sound so fascinating. Regardless, with credits listing out things like ‘nail violin’ and (translated) ‘bottle tree,’ the combined forces’ 20-minute Kinetic Folkways is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever heard, marrying Pierre’s organic robotics to jazz improv, but tamped down with a structural focus – three acts that step between playful tones, contemplative ones, and a conclusion akin to a lullaby. It’s sprawling but contained; mysterious and soothing; it is always shifting through its runtime but with purpose, from start to finish, and suggests – via all of its varied sounds and surely makeshift instruments – it’d be as fascinating to see pieced together live as it is satisfying to just close your eyes and immerse yourself in whatever story you feel it tells.
Over on the other side, Anna Homler, Adrian Northover, and Dave Tucker offer up five 2- to 4-minute tracks of improvised vocals, keys, and sprinkled guitar, and then some more. This is more “traditional” experimental minimalist music, and as such, takes some more tolerance than the generally accessible Folkways. After a couple spins to get a feel for it – Homler’s floating vocals; the way Northover and Tucker feel out what to add and when – it’s rather impressively layered and composed: realizing that this stuff is made up on the spot makes the moments when the trio introduces oddball sounds and samples into the mix in an incredibly organic fashion quite amazing. But it has some of the general affects of improv, in that it takes a bit for the three to ramp up to a groove, and tracks tend to not have much in the way of conclusions. Knowing what you’re in for can make this quite rewarding overall, though.