NATE WOOLEY – Argonautica

Firehouse 12

All along Nate Wooley’s innumerable forays into the realms of audible boundlessness, no stone has been left unturned as far as genre-disassembling diversions and varicolored partnerships are concerned. Argonautica is another extended chunk of foaming creativity cut from Wooley’s unique quilt, bringing together the leader and his mentor (Ron Miles, on cornet) flanked by a responsive ensemble.

At first the reviewer faces a standard “how do I put this into words?” instant of perplexed incapacity. An emotional solitary intro by Miles becomes, as the minutes elapse, a swollen cluster of instrumental constituents treading a precarious path across a growing number of asperities. The interplay is at once streamlined and disrupted, concordant and rough. One is aware of the wholeness while struggling to determine the level of cohesiveness. The players appear totally dedicated, though, which is all what matters. A state of relative equanimity is reached at one point, accented by fleeting arpeggios by Corey Smythe’s piano. It doesn’t last, the group soon back to a systematic exchange of hard blows inside the organic loudness.

When the waters calm down for real, the initial lyricism returns as an essential node in the composition. An intertwining of spacey lines tops awkward aggregates where Jozef Dumoulin’s electronics figure as a displacing variable; any harmonic impression gets melted, the music shifting towards areas that – quite oddly – brought the name “Soft Machine” to the writer’s mind. Or maybe Soft Machine if Mike Ratledge had smoked too much weed, all shapes and colors turned into a lysergic albuminoid substance.

The closing section leaves more room to a general concept of collective vibration. The musicians are united in a strong flux of consciousness; their choices may be unexpected, but never eccentric. The borders separating sentience, sonic impermanence and downright bedlam are trespassed time and again. An 11/8 riff materializes from nowhere to push the cast through a bedraggled momentousness, enhanced by extended reverberations applied to the melodic sources. The end arrives in anxious quietude, the endmost leftovers of orchestral disfigurement floating randomly on the surface of a suddenly clearer water.

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