David Virelles: piano, organ, synth, samples, computer programming; Henry Threadgill: alto saxophone; Rafiq Bhatia: guitar; Marcus Gilmore: drums; Alexander Overington: cello, electronics; Román Diaz: vocals; Etián Brebaje Man: vocals;
Cuban-born David Virelles, a forward-thinker pianist with a luminous touch, progressively gained prominence within the modern jazz universe, not only due to his original works but also through collaborations with Chris Potter, Tomasz Stanko, Jonathan Finlayson, and Henry Threadgill.
His previous album, Mbókò, is dated from 2013 and competently fused Afro-Cuban traditions with contemporary jazz.
If Mbókò presented peculiar rhythms and dispositions, the new Antenna, a 6-track vinyl released on ECM Records that only lasts for 22 minutes, is even more absorbing and daring, innovating through a grippingly fresh Nu Jazz.
The cycle starts and ends in the same way, purely percussive with the Afro-Latin polyrhythms of “Binary” and “Text” set by a fictional percussive ensemble programmed by Virelles. In the middle, we have four electro-acoustic avant-garde explorations whose textures fluctuate from blissfully spacious to stratospherically dense.
“Water, Bird Headed Mistress“ combines ambient electronica, intriguing chamber music, and beseeching melodies tossed by the acclaimed altoist Henry Threadgill. It’s a hypnotic piece that piques our curiosity through its dazzling magnetism.
“Threshold” is even more experimental, letting out creaky sounds and other weird noises, as well as Roman Diaz’s inflamed words over Marcus Gilmore’s understated drumming. In the last two minutes, we’re all ears for guitarist Rafiq Bhatia, who sets a distorted, quirky mood that feels simultaneously rich and obscure.
“Rumbakuá” is filled with Cuban street poetry and hip-hop grooves, featuring the rapper Etián Brebaje Man.
An interesting combination of textures is put to work in “El Toro de Bronce”, the longest track of the LP with 6:45 minutes. The bandleader starts by designing unmelodious clusters, having the uncanny arrhythmias of Gilmore as support. This climate gives place to darker chill-out vibes on top of which Virelles brings up a cerebral improvisation. All ends up in a sinister pianistic hammering.
Antenna gathers strange multi-cultural rituals that feel urban and kaleidoscopic, showcasing Virelles’s strong experimental vein and musical boldness.
Odd? Yes, I agree, but utterly satisfying.
02 – Water, Bird Headed Mistress ► 03 – Threshold ► 05 – El Toro de Bronce