Label/Year: AUM Fidelity, 2017
Lineup – Whit Dickey: drums; Mat Maneri: viola; Matthew Shipp: piano.
Vessel in Orbit is a musical narrative of a fictional spatial voyage piloted by a trio of talented musicians and longtime associates. I'm talking about the quick-tempered drummer Whit Dickey, conceptualist violist Mat Maneri, and groundbreaking pianist Matthew Shipp.
Together, and furnished with the appropriate palettes, they illustrate this cosmic adventure that starts with the characterization of their “Spaceship 9”. There’s an imminent sense of danger brought by an insistent chord, an unambiguous rhythmic provocation by Shipp, who inspires Maneri for a few virtuosic and full-blooded runs that initially sound like a horn. The percussive currents emitted by Dickey sometimes gain the form of an imperial march. Despite some textural iteration and occasional mitigation in the intensity, the tune vibrates with movement.
The crew stops the engines for a “Space Walk”, which is done at an irregular pace as a result of freedom. They describe the dark and bright sides of the mysterious planet they’re stationed.
Forcing them into a huge vortex of tension, “Dark Matter” brings a jittery effervescence that will lead them to “Galaxy 9”, a quiescent cogitation, later turned into vehement imploration conducted by Maneri’s dramatic phrasing.
While passing a risky zone of “Turbulence”, they experience oscillating moves regulated by Dickey’s technique and loaded with contrapuntal dissertations from his peers, whose paths occasionally cross.
The impact was so strong that a fourth member of the crew didn’t resist and succumbed. That's the reason why lugubrious tones embrace “To a Lost Comrade”, conveying despair and consternation. Here, it's Dickey who tries to pull his mates out of the lethargy.
“Space Strut” shows us Shipp bolstering and propelling the spaceship with left and right-hand attacks, forming beautiful atmospheric textures of wide tonal range.
Already in another dimension, “Hyperspatial” comprehends contemplative reflections and euphoric exaltations punctuated by stratospheric noisy blasts.
If you want to step out of this world for a while, grab this record, which was passionately devised by an experienced trio of galaxy explorers, and let the portions of madness and lucidity invade your own space.
01 – Spaceship 9 ► 04 – Galaxy 9 ► 07 – Space Strut