Squid’s Ear review by Jeph Jerman


Memorize The Sky – In Former Times (CF 122)  
Matt Bauder (reeds), Zach Wallace (double bass) and Aaron Siegel (percussion) have been performing and recording as Memorize The Sky for about a decade, and their music has the sense of refinement such longevity can bring. It is a music of carefully placed “notes” and “sounds” wherein both notions become blurred. It drifts slowly, but not aimlessly, and it is often difficult to tell just what the source of some sounds is.

After a low-key opening of buzz-rolled snare and rising/falling tones, a slight rhythmic suggestion like a spoked wheel turning is overlaid with slight melody, breath sounds and what could be water. The piece grows seemingly of it’s own accord.

All of the untitled tracks on this disc were recorded live in Austria, but very little information about them is given. I am assuming these gentlemen are improvising, and if so the restraint displayed in these five untitled tracks is admirable. The second piece begins with plucked bass notes and scrabbly drumhead scratchings, joined eventually by popping notes from tenor sax. The interplay is slowly intensified but never reaches fever-pitch, more like smeared free jazz, the recollection of a band through the haze of memory. The third piece has high-pitched harmonics and metallic ringing with flutter-key overblowing, each player’s sounds raising and sinking like waves. It has a resemblance to electronic music in its modus of sonic layering, but with acoustic instruments… and no electronic effects that I can discern. Toward the end of the piece one is reminded of Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians’ in the timbre and quick bowing of the bass; the billowing chords here are especially beautiful.

The final offering definitely resembles a song, like an old ballad played exceedingly slowly, and it gives the whole disc a sense of moving toward this, as if the players were creeping ever so glacially toward a theme, which is stated briefly and then it’s gone. Not an after-thought, but a culmination.

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