By Derek Taylor
Evocative in title and content, The Sea, the Storm and the Full Moon was committed to record when Amsterdam-by-way-of-Buenos-Aires reedist Ada Rave was pregnant with her now-toddler son Lucero. Several years later it’s now in circulation and a vibrant summation of both the roots and branches of her career as an improvising musician. Colleagues Wilbert De Joode on bass and Nicola L. Hein on prepared guitar are both recruits from her adoptive home and each man throws himself wholeheartedly into the opportunity of supplying their employer with spontaneously-engineered support that both bolsters and challenges.
Countryman Gato Barbieri gets name-checked on the accompanying one-sheet as an indelible influence, but Rave goes her own way from the cliff jump that is “Inner Chaos.” Hein and De Joode pick a tangled forest of bent and hooked tones for her tenor to bounce off and around and the clarity of the studio recording brings even their densest, most barbed passages into bold and bracing relief. “Primitive Dance” moves to moist and eructative breath sounds and textured string manipulations that staunchly resist conventional structuring. It’s a mileage-may-vary piece, but one where the concerted convictions of the purveyors never come into question.
“Breathing the Ocean’s Air” turns to Rave’s uncanny ability at making her tenor sound akin to a clarinet and an intriguing tonal overlap with Hein’s amplified strings. “The Journey of the Little Being” and features her on the latter instrument for point of comparison. De Joode plucks from the margins on both pieces in variable speed commentary that is at once spatially apart and completely in accordance with his partners. “Comes from a Dream” is another instance of chameleonic transformation as Rave’s tenor sprouts metallic spines and harmonic feelers through a combination of dampening and extended embouchure techniques. De Joode and Hein switch to collective creaking and sawing in response.
The closing title piece returns a transitory equilibrium and as with the album as a whole is sourced from a poem of Rave’s invention. Sans words the sound imagery follows the titular referents from a roiling, churning atonality steeped in feedback-laced percussive guitar, scuttling bass and whistling overblown tenor to a cumulative place of relative calm as the players lurch uneasily into a shared moon-drenched slumber. A relative unknown stateside, this sharply-rendered, reliably rousing broadside is likely to win her more than a few admirers among those for whom the best free improvisation is a contact sport.