Label: Pyroclastic Records, 2019
Personnel - Ben Goldberg: clarinet, contra-alto clarinet; Ron Miles: cornet; Nels Cline: guitar.
Poetry that influences music, which, in turn, inspires new poetry, is a basic description to describe clarinetist Ben Goldberg’s interesting concept for his new album Good Day For Cloud Fishing. The album, inspired by Dean Young’s book Solar Plexus, exists on a plane of its own, delivering musical moments replete with compositional structure and unfettered improvisation. Goldberg puts together an excellent triumvirate for this effort, joining forces with cornetist Ron Miles in a productive two-horn frontline that operates over the quirky foundations engendered by the ever-unpredictable guitarist Nels Cline.
Carrying a somewhat scary and enigmatic title, “Demonic Possession is 9/10th The Law” is just a short, innocuous chorale that kicks off the session a balladic quality.
Revolving around a specific melodic idea, “Parthenogenesis” requires Cline to function almost like a bass player. During the earlier laid-back 4/4 section, it’s Miles’ mildly distorted stretches that stand out, but the tune veers into a folk-impregnated vintage section that changes course once more, going toward bluesy and freer improvisation.
“Phantom Pains” thrives with Monk-ish humor and an avant-garde posture. One can detect an ad-lib collective loquacity that morphs into a worry-free passage with predominantly folk intentions.
Both “A Rhythmia” and “Corpse Pose” are vividly cinematic, unraveling an impressive mobility and clarity in sound. The former features Golberg’s propulsive contra-alto clarinet guiding at the lower level, Cline’s bouncy retro rock chops, and Miles’ amusing melodies. Conversely, the latter piece makes an unexpected u-turn after offering sturdy unisons and an orbital rock sequence with some Pink Floyd psychedelia in the mix. At some point, it shapes into a soaring passage susceptible of an uncharacteristic romanticism. Both pieces testify that the trio come off as equal partners.
The experimental “Sub Club Punch Card” is infused with multiple trills and psychedelic effects, differing from the funk-tinged “Ant-Head Structures”, whose groovy gestures slow down for a meditation period where sustained guitar chords accommodate zigzagging melodic activity. The atmosphere gets thicker as distortion and extra effects are added to the concluding stage.
Clocking in at roughly 9 and a half minutes, “Surprised Again By Rain” is the longest track on the album, and displays the group exploring two discrepant ambiances while making use of an intelligent instrumentation. Poignant and lyrical at the very start, the tune feels like a true poem. However, the clear skies gradually darken, shaking things off with a relentless, oppressive, and slightly-macabre sonic pollution. After painting this sort of dystopian scenario, the trio concludes the session by returning to what they had started on the very first track: a tonic, optimistic, and multi-layered chorale. Its title is “An Ordinary Day Somewhere”.
Alternating between perfect curvatures and sharp angles, softness and harshness, space and entanglement, this is an appropriate setting to become acquainted with Goldberg’s sonic depth, improvising skills, and compositional creativity.
04 - A Rhythmia ► 05 - Corpse Pose ► 11 - Surprised Again by Rain