LUIS TABUENCA / DAFNA NAPHTALI – Index Of Refraction

Acheulian Handaxe

Recorded in 2014 but still sounding impressively up to date, the twelve tracks of Index Of Refraction show two perspicacious musicians merging timbral proportionality and lack of foregone conclusions with the secret codes of impromptu action.

Tabuenca’s percussive arsenal and Naphtali’s voice are an attractive proposition. They both externalize their motivation without hyperbole, in a way restricting themselves to the point of emitting pitches whose pairing just can’t fail. There’s elegance behind the expressiveness, yet the sense of immunity from routine is totally retained. In synthesis, involuntary restraint improving the sonic attributes of the impulse.

As the electronics enter the scene the feeling is that of a perceptible change of magnitude in the scale of possibilities. An additional nuance at times revealing a will of its own; in those moments the music conveys its most intangible qualities. The comprehensibility of all the processes inherent to the duo’s acoustic interaction is not jeopardized; the word “disorder” seems to have never been known of over here.

In regard to some of Naphtali’s non-figurative melodic diversions, glimpses of a cross of Tenko Ueno and a slightly inebriated Meredith Monk flashed here and there. However, treat this affirmation as a transitory deranged fantasy of the reviewer.

More plainly, and in spite of the scientific grounds inspiring the work, picture scattered groupings of clouds mutating shapes through a crystalline sky, no storm threat whatsoever. This is perhaps the closest one can get to imagining how this pleasing album sounds like (if we pretend to forget the existence of the label link under the title, that is).

Got it, then? A classic case of “simply listen to prevent the reporter from persevering with his verbal bullshit”. Ultimately, we’re talking neatly performed improvisation: that’s perfectly fine with me for today.

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