Label/Year: Clean Feed, 2017
Lineup: Mat Maneri: viola; Evan Parker: saxophones; Lucian Ban: piano.
Sounding Tears is a nebulous musical session devised by the improvisational masters Mat Maneri, Evan Parker and Lucian Ban, American violist, British saxophonist, and American pianist of Romanian descent, respectively.
While Maneri teamed up recently with saxophonist Tony Malaby and cellist Daniel Levine on New Artifacts (Clean Feed, 2017), another abstract trio work, the prolific Parker followed a similar path on the astonishingly atmospheric As The Wind (Psi, 2016), recorded with percussionist Mark Nauseff and lithophonist Toma Gouband. As for Lucian Ban, he, too, released an album called Songs From Afar (Sunnyside, 2017) with his Elevation quartet, which comprises saxophonist Abraham Burton, bassist John Hebért, and drummer Eric McPherson. Maneri also played as a guest on half of the tracks.
As expected, the music of this trio arrives on the spur of the moment, acquiring random shapes and apparently flowing without a fixed structure.
On “Blue Light”, we have Parker’s uninterrupted enunciations secured by muted viola sounds and low-pitched piano notes, both working as a percussive obbligato. A lethargic disposition embraces us in the beginning of “Da da da”, whose uncanny vibes shift into an odd dance of violin and sax while the piano remains actively involved in the discussion.
Neglecting tempo and forsaking harmony, “The Rule of Twelves” finds Maneri and Parker playing an avant-chamber duet immersed in ambiguity. Also rendered in duet, but this time featuring Ban and Parker, “This!” takes a conversational path that, despite experimental, feels more graspable than the previous compositions.
Afterward, it's Ban alone, who shines with a solo piece, “Polaris”, being also preponderant on the enigmatic “Blessed”, in which his penetrating low notes superimpose to the sparse high-pitched lines. The setting he creates is perfect for Maneri’s microtonal approach and Parker’s uncompromised strays.
The record’s two closing tracks are lenient yet contrasting in nature. If “Paralex” evolves into a compulsive manifesto of disordered small flurries and spasms, “Hymn” is the closest the band can get from a song format and the most touching and ear-pleasing tune on the record.
Sounding Tears is a one-of-a-kind experience. It can be a journey to the ends of a remote universe or a philosophical exploration about the measureless weight of some weird microorganism. It will all depend on the receptivity of your own senses.
04 – Blessed ► 05 –This! ► 10 – Hymn