Another first encounter, in this instance with a composer and clarinettist based in Brooklyn, NY who with Fire Sign has come, if maths are done properly, to the fifth self-signed release. Shame on the commentator for the lack of publicity, though this aging man doesn’t remember having received any of Jeremiah Cymerman’s previous albums (unless something went missing in the archive’s wrecked quarters). Let’s cut digressions and get straight to the point: I have been listening to this record – conscientiously, not while painting the house or pruning the roses – for three days now. It is a challenging album constructed on (mostly) recycled material, unwearyingly assembled patchworks comprising snippets of improvised sets, studio outtakes and assorted experiments.
The crux of the biscuit is that “recycling” in this case means – for example – mixing tremendous blasts and babbling threats from Nate Wooley and Peter Evans’s trumpets (their never-really-occurred duet in the self-explanatory “Collapsed Eustachian” kicks serious ass) with a processing treatment that enhances the violent urgency of liberating otherwise inexpressible utterances. More mashed beauty is reclaimed by countering the perilous abysses plumbed by Tom Blancarte’s double bass (the sole generator in “I Woke Up Early The Day That I Died”) with the elegiac traits of Christopher Hoffman’s cello, or the disassembled drumming of Brian Chase and Harris Eisenstadt. Radical creations made of thousands of seamed fragments that include digital or vinyl-derived grubbiness, computerized mangling and pre-recorded complements that may sound preposterous on an initial attempt, but already at the second appear as logical. Just listen to the guy who cackles hysterically in the remote background of the last seconds of “Touched With Fire”, contradicting a decidedly poignant section.
The final track is “Burned Across The Sky”. Cymerman dedicates it to Christopher Bird (“someone who I loved very much and think about every day”), at the same time declaring the influence of William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops: kudos to a musician who clearly admits it amidst hundreds of quiet stealers. The principal’s clarinet and Sam Kulik’s trombone are added to Wooley, Hoffman, Blancarte and Eisenstadt as components of a cinematic minimalism disfigured by asymmetrical spirals and angrily insistent flutters, furnishing the listener with a valuable sonic rendition of cyclic inevitability spilling out accidental events. A reiterative progression grounded on sorrowful wisdom – and a pinch of paradox, if you will – closing one of the finest records sent this way in 2011.