Trombonist and composer Michael Dessen is equally at ease with unorthodox exhalations through his pet instrument and the ingenious exploitation of them via a computerized system. The interactive sum of these two entities is referred to as “Digibone”. The tracks featured in Digibone Forest offer a broad overview of what this setup can do, identifying Dessen as a stimulating improviser gifted with enough mental freshness to avoid a listener’s irritation. They are in fact packed with nonconformist fantasies, and always distinguished by a productive reactivity to the spur of the moment.
Dessen has a remarkably diversified stylistic and collaborative background. A pupil of Yusef Lateef, George E. Lewis and Anthony Davis among others, over the years he has been putting his talent at the service of performers active in multiple genres, cooperating with the likes of Mark Dresser, Sarah Weaver and Gerry Hemingway. All of the above is clearly reflected in the plethora of situations offered by the album, comprising fast sequences of deformed snapshots, ironic hints to hard-to-pinpoint realities, awkward polyrhythms, bionic animal chit-chat, even quasi-celestial revelations. In the midst of all this, Dessen maintains a distinct melodic sense that never transcends into vulgar or syrupy. Those openings to more “serene” views amidst the puzzlement caused by so many sudden shifts and turnarounds are nice to find, and enjoy.
In tough times for everyone’s mind, following something that is slightly different from a “normal” logic has become rather problematic. Think of the struggle to concentrate while reading, or the effort required to decrypt the secret signals of unconventional music. As if by magic, Dessen has managed to overcome the risk of fatigue by naturally predisposing himself to creative currents which transmit, in essence, a bizarre purity. By lending your ears to Digibone Forest, your head will only be filled with ricocheting forms of alternative life, expressed by acoustic materials not for sale at the local store.