Weasel Walter / Mary Halvorson / Peter Evans – Electric Fruit

(Thirsty Ear)

An extremely superficial review of this record read elsewhere destroyed it by declaring, among the common twaddle, that it features three musicians playing in the same room but not together. Such a thin statement, after having listened to Electric Fruit several times in a row, reinforces this writer’s conviction that, in an ideal world, music should not be analyzed by people lacking specific experience, exactly as one can’t disparage a building without knowing the principles of architecture. If you merely trust personal taste and short-term mood in throwing out a “uh-oh, impending deadline” semi-defamatory write-up, ignorance is inevitably spread — and, even worse, trusted. Then we have the age-old problem, the general inability of decoding abnormally intricate structures and fractions of meters.

What many fail to see when facing free improvisation is that there are numerous obligatory aspects to mull over. In this drums/guitar/trumpet permutation, none of them is overlooked by the participants — believe me, they do listen to each other, the overall dynamic ebb and flow often amazing — yet the most striking aspect resides in the trio’s ability to imply a refined sonic landslide: a devastating force one moment, a fractured variety of the same energy the next. Within this context, you’ll get everything that is needed: various layers of composite instrumental interaction (including quieter segments where isolated hits, sparingly plucked strings and weak overtones work wonders on the listener’s expectation), and a constant sense of reciprocated openness. The latter is signified by Evans’ and Halvorson’s frenetic call-and-responses and Walter’s support of his comrades by a vigorously comprehensive partaking, every single piece of the drum set exploited to add new colors — frictional or less — to an already rich palette.

If the preference is to focus on the distinct entities, there’s also a lot to chew on. Evans’ incisive alternating of incongruous endangerment of tone and hyper-technical phraseology; Halvorson’s penchant for disintegrating the clustery intelligibility of her fingerings through a lucid madness alimented by distortion and pitch-bending pedals; Walter’s assortment of rolls, taps and clatters that manage to locate at least a crumble of musicality in what occasionally appears as scattered debris. The record’s brilliance lies in the sum of all these factors and in the assessor’s maintenance of a panoramic vision on the whole — which, apparently, is still quite a chore for the ill-equipped.


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