Ian Smith: trumpet; Hannah Marshall: cello; Stephen Flinn: drums, percussion
It took several days and a considerable number of listens to figure out the compass of instrumental awkwardness that Alter Egos presents. This genus of improvisation is essentially unsullied and, exactly for this cause, hardly succulent if one approaches it nervelessly. You need to locate the “right spots” and proceed from there: close encounters, parallel soliloquies and socialistic violations of the norms of “regular handsomeness” help realizing that this music’s fiber is of such thickness to result impervious to any straining process. Smith emits squeals akin to those of an angered mother-in-law, windy currents that seem to come from some valley in a degraded Far West county and trombone-like purr-and-howl gibberish which misrepresent the actual size of his instrument. Marshall knows graces, traces, smells and splinters of the cello as no orchestral nerd can, usually privileging toneless qualities and unsmooth traits but, at the same time, being able to create droning clusters and skewed melodies that clarify – just a bit – a sonic map chock full of intertwined tortuosities. Flinn’s cognizance pushes him distant from half-baked pointlessness: hazardous propulsive prototypes and schismatic applications of creative intuition on skins, metals, woods and objects constitute the fundament of a systematic offense to the jurisprudence of percussive symmetricalness.