Barry Chabala / Bonnie Jones / Louisa Martin / Tisha Mukarji / Toshimaru Nakamura – Unbalanced In (Unbalanced Out)

(Another Timbre)

For its very constitution, Unbalanced In (Unbalanced Out) is not an easy record to gulp down. Guitarist Barry Chabala conceived the strategy following an essential principle, that of a long-distance coalition with five artists whose way of playing, in his hopes, would push the music along a definite course. As always with this type of venture, analyzing the system takes longer than detailing the ensuing commodity. Basically, each partaker was requested to play 20 minutes of material on their respective instruments (whatever the shapes, spaces or temporal subdivisions) but not according to a “collective crazy-quilt” anarchy to be edited later. Gabriel Paiuk (piano) initiated the game, the subsequent musicians layering parts alone as they received the prior superimpositions: the second listening to the first only, the third joining the preceding duo and so on, with Chabala adding his own contribution and post-producing/equalizing the whole at the end.

Considering the incidence of another inside-and-out pianist (Tisha Mukarji); of the immediately identifiable no-input mixing board of Toshimaru Nakamura; and that both Bonnie Jones (electronics) and Louisa Martin (laptop) seem to mostly deal with non-pitched matters, it’s odd to see how the coordinator’s acoustic guitar fits adequately in a piece that ultimately results as mildly amusing, in spite of the perceived lack of “traditional” structural demarcations. Exactly for that reason one tends to be thankful for the unmethodical atmosphere characterizing specific junctures. Without mentioning separate instances, let’s just say that “friable” and “wooden” combine satisfactorily, and that the amorphous sketching sputtered by the electronic instrumentation is somewhat known but still well greeted. As far as the strings are concerned, they are supposed to vibrate and resound and this is indeed what happens, providing perhaps the actual attractiveness – call it purity, if you will – in this sophisticated mishmash.