Reedman Vinny Golia is quick to sing the praises of the musicians who help him in Abstractions And Retrocausalities, first “official” release of his work with this nucleus of players, all coming from the California Institute Of The Arts. The leader, who employs several saxophones and clarinets plus selected reeds from the Far East, put the compositions in the knowledgeable hands and lungs of Dan Rosenboom and Gavin Templeton as supporting airstream propellers, leaving the “jazz-rock” facets to guitarist Alex Noyce, bassist Jon Armstrong and drummer Andrew Lessman. Indeed a strong cohesion exists between the group’s members, characterizing scores where the fusion of tight execution and malleable skill is mandatory. Pushing the music beyond the line of “interesting exercise” and placing it in the area of true excitement requires another kind of appetite, though.
Class being class, the CD is gratifying enough and never overstays its welcome despite a duration of circa 76 minutes. However, nothing here will cause someone to exclaim that the wheel has been reinvented. Instant terms of comparison, in consideration of the large use of odd meters and masterful arrangements, are Frank Zappa — the so-called “lighter” version or, if you prefer, the one that certain mature rocket scientists define as “commercial” after the Mothers period (pity the rigid-minded man) — and some of the collectives associated with post-RIO movements and labels such as Cuneiform or Moonjune. Think, just to drop a couple of names, about a three-headed hybrid of Muffins, Motor Totemist Guild and Phil Miller’s In Cahoots, all smiles and relaxing under the Californian sun. In truth, the laid-back vibe which the sextet occasionally emits is exactly what lowers the project’s magnitude a bit. Except for a few scenes (for example, the conclusive “Full Moon”), neither urgency nor paradox seem to reside anywhere near, even if the energies transmitted are quite positive and the sonorities always congenial, when not extremely familiar (“Abstroblue” appears as a veritable Waka/Jawaka offshoot).
In any case, if you’re into scored density, instrumental facility and disengaged fun, there’s much to be treasured here.