Monday, February 13, 2023

Jeff Arnal, Curt Cloninger, Drum Major Instinct


What is next in the sequence of the sounding virtually of everything we can guess at but never know 'til it is there, and today's example is as unexpected as anything right now. What is it then? A duet of drummer  Jeff Arnal and Curt Cloninger on modular synthesizer for a thoughtful and sonically alive full album entitled Drum Major Instinct   (Mahakala Music CD MAHA-034).

As you listen you immediately grasp that this is spontaneous in its three segmented part improvisations, yet they manage to remain extraordinarily inventive and varied in what they weave moment-after-moment. Jeff's drumming owes something to the Eddie Blackwell sort of time plus continuous set adornment solo material in ever inventive and sonically diverse ways. On top of this is Curt's rather psychedelic drone and minimal sonic landscaping. He varies all he does in every sequence so we feel time passing and music endlessly pouring with enchantment from a fountainhead of intelligent spirit.

The key is perhaps obvious but not in any way routine in the continual brilliance of the evolving musical moments. It reminds of Terry Riley John Cale, Robert Wyatt in their finer moments yet very much with  the duo's own heady mix of possibilities, and there is a noisey sonic element too that thickens everything much of the time without a question of abandoning the harmonic trance set-up and slowly evolving until the next organized moment of new ground.

Outstanding job! Highly recommended, one of the finest electronic and percussive clusters of improvisational brilliance I have heard lately. Bravo, molto bravo!