Ariel Shibolet: The Cy Twombly Trilogy

Israeli reedman Shibolet presents us with three CDs – a solo and a couple of duos – on JC Jones’ Kadima Collective label. Each record’s sleeve is adorned by a Twombly painting, with nice aural incentives to be found in there for good measure.

ARIEL SHIBOLET – Live At The Total Music Meeting 

Specifically, the 2007 edition of the legendary Berlin festival (by the way, I’ll have to find a week to dissect that colossal FMP box sooner than later). Independently from the quote of a flattering review on the cover, which compares – effortlessly, and somewhat inappropriately – Shibolet with Evan Parker, the 39-year old central character is the carrier of a strong identity of his own. He might be turning wheels and spitting fire in certain cruelly strenuous circulations as to recall the English master, but then the resolution of those whirlwinds is repeatedly found in single notes that slide, glide and squeal with nearly painful effects for our ears, in an almost desperate need of telling us “this is me”. When the focus is shifted on the multiphonic side of things, a raw-boned musicality – corroborated by the use of voice “inside” the instrument and the customary damp lingual tricks – tries to overcome the brute strength of wavering power tones in the lower registers. Substantial stuff throughout, also appreciable by members of the Bertrand Denzler/Stéphane Rives guild. 

ARIEL SHIBOLET / NORI JACOBY – Scenes From An Ideal Marriage 

Soprano sax and viola, recorded live at Tel Aviv’s Hateiva in 2010. Shibolet and Jacoby do not even attempt to chip away at the common practices of current improvisation, letting most elements of a recent vocabulary enter the picture at various times. The pairing of instrumental voices works reasonably fine, starting with wet insufflations, intense breathing and lyrically rasping aspects of timbral parallelism to arrive at moments in which the pitches are so strained and yet so expressive that they give an idea of stirring exigency and severe mourning at once. The resultant music is for the large part quite gripping, never impecunious as far as emotions are concerned, always revealing a humanity that keeps listeners willing to identify with the thickest facets rather than jostling them aside. The balance of percussive nuances and sloping semi-tonal figurations replete with strange upper partials warrants serious enthralment during a variety of situations.

ARIEL SHIBOLET / HAGGAI FERSHTMAN – Happiness For Things Unseen 

A series of mainly garrulous exchanges between parties who come from dissimilar backgrounds (drummer Fershtman militates in a number of rock bands, we’re told). As distant from “quiet” conversation as one can be: either in “bubbling chatter vs. abrasive metal” fashion, or in combinations of different kinds of loquacious wrath (think a punk version of Paul Dunmall fighting a rolling-and-tumbling imprudent nonconformist), the appearance of what’s produced is likely to invigorate and/or rub up the wrong way, depending on the receiving subject. The “animal” characteristics are more evident in concert snippets such as “Live At Levontin 7” and in the conclusive poker of bonus tracks (all called “Movement”) which also restate that this is not gratuitous blasting. When they decide to show that trait, both artists are in fact reasonable reciprocal listeners, able to mix ironic matter-of-factness and vehement density without spraining their creative muscles.

Kadima Collective

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