Label: Self produced, 2019
Personnel – Patrick Shiroishi: alto and tenor saxophone; Mallory Soto: voice; Ang Wilson: flute; Kelly Coats: flute; Dylan Fujioka: accordion, percussion; Jason Adams: cello; Pauline Lay: violin; Noah Guevara: guitar; Ken Moore: double bass.
One can say that saxophonist Patrick Shiroishi is a conceptualist by the way he arranged the experimental 47-minute opus Towards a Walk in the Sun. The work takes the shape of a one single mysterious-sounding scalar piece recorded live at Heartbeat House in L.A. and titled “Un Fuego Se Apaga, Otro Sigue Quemando”. This is not the kind of improvisatory music that ramps up through the speakers, but rather a patiently layered, slow-burning long-form music that, without transcending, may pique your curiosity. The simplicity and balance achieved with this composite of volatility and opaqueness made me think of minimalist avant-garde composers such as Terry Riley and Moondog.
The journey begins with deep cello slashes, later coupled with violin lengthiness and Mallory Soto’s soaring voice to create a brooding chamber spell that takes us to a cinematic crossing between Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut and Lynch’s Twin Peaks. The controlled instrumentation enlarges and shrinks this sort of mantric introspection, which lasts more than 20 minutes. Occasional scratching and chirping noises become discernible amidst the droning practices. The sounds flicker and persevere.
This ethereal nimbus slides to a bit more explorative territory and becomes ominous with the presence of percussive elements and Shiroishi’s saxophone, whose brittle tone and atonal approach infuse some spark without ever pulling the tune out of its melancholy.
When an adventurous flute discloses intention to dance apart, the alluring bow work pushes it to its cavernous hideaway. This relentlessly dark symphony made of dusky gradients conjures images of desolation, wonder, and regret, all at once. The last section throbs with psychedelic instrumental activity within the same phantasmagoric denouement.
Maintaining the same intonation throughout, the music never explodes in any direction. Hence, broadening the dynamics would be of great benefit here since the framework is decorously orchestrated.