With their latest release, Flora Oblique, Jeff Kimmel, Ishmael Ali, and Bill Harris continue to explore the possibilities of their improvisational interplay, this time captured live at Audio For the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin. The trio's third record showcases their evolution as a unit, building on the experimental groundwork laid by their previous albums A Pound of Salt (577 Records, 2019) and Vivary (Amalgam, 2021).
Flora Oblique sees the trio weaving together intricate layers of sound, with bursts of contrast that add an unpredictable edge. Despite the album's improvised nature, the musicians display a remarkable coherence and telepathic connection as they navigate the unpredictable terrain.
On "Daytime Advanced Relentlessly," for example, the trio creates a hypnotic narrative, with Kimmel's sonorous clarinet contrasted by Ali's pointed cello phrases intertwining with Harris's insistent pulse. The piece gradually builds in intensity, with the electronics adding a subtle yet menacing undercurrent, dissolving into a lopsided groove, before finally dissolving into a haunting soundscape.
Meanwhile, on "Faint, Diffuse, & Peculiar," the trio showcases their ability to create a wide range of textures and moods, with Kimmel's skittering clarinet lines and Harris's frenzied drumming providing a restless energy, while Ali's cello adds a mournful counterpoint. The piece eventually gives way to a mesmerizing drone, with the electronics taking center stage and the acoustic instruments receding into the background.
Throughout Flora Oblique, the trio demonstrates a remarkable ability to create a rich, immersive sonic world, full of unexpected twists and turns. Whether they're exploring the outer limits of their instruments or crafting delicate, introspective moments, Kimmel, Ali, and Harris display a deep empathy and understanding of each other's playing. This is improvisational music at its most adventurous and rewarding, and Flora Oblique is a testament to the power of spontaneous composition, and its narrative power and creation.
- Ingrid Winters, 2023
Jeff Kimmel - clarinet, electronics
Ishmael Ali - cello, electronics
Bill Harris - drums, feedback
Recorded at Audio For the Arts, Madison, WI on May 14th by Buzz Kemper.
Mixed and mastered by Kimmel/Ali/Harris.
Artwork by Zander Raymond.