Kategorie

The Sky Below


  • Kod: PI84
  • On Stock
  • Producent: Pi Recordings (USA)
  • Wykonawca: Miles Okazaki
  • Nośnik: CD
  • Instrument lidera: guitar
  • Cena: 66,99 zł
  • Poleć produkt

Avant Jazz / Free Improvisation / Avant-Garde
premiera polska:
2020-05-14
kontynent: Ameryka Północna
kraj: USA
opakowanie: digipackowe etui
opis:

multikulti.com * * * * 1/2:
Przed lekturą płyty "The Sky Below" koniecznie trzeba sięgnąć po poprzedni album Okazakiego "Trickster". I to wcale nie dlatego, że na okładce nowej płyty widzimy ten sam obrazek, co na okładce "Trickster" z charakterystycznym krukiem po prawej stronie. Z tą tylko różnicą, że pozostała część obrazka została zatopiona i ukryta jest pod lustrem wody.
Obie płyty nagrane zostały w kwartetowej obsadzie (gitara/klawisze/bass/perkusja), komplet kompozycji do studio przyniósł lider - Miles Okazaki. I trzeba powiedzieć, że słucha się tego jak drugiego albumu z dwupłytowego wydawnictwa, aż szkoda, że "Trickster" i "The Sky Below" nie są sprzedawane, jako 2CD.
Jak to zgrabnie ujął recenzent popMATTERS "Okazakiego wyobrażał sobie nowe tematy jako kolejne etapy narracji o tricksterowej postaci w podróży oceanicznej: Odyseusz spotyka Królika Bugsa i Henry'ego Threadgilla? czyż muzyka nie jest fascynującą podróżą?".
Co prawda nastąpiła jedna zmiana w składzie, dobry znajomy Okazakiego z Five Elements Steve'a Colemana Matt Mitchell zastąpił Craiga Taborna, jednak koncepcja całości nie została wywrócona. Nastąpiło natomiast rozwinięcie tricksterowej koncepcji, czasami o zadziwiające motywy. Słychać to już w trzecim tracku "Anthemoessa". Wpływ Roberta Frippa jest tutaj wyraźnie słyszalny, jego frippertronics jest znane Okazakiemu.
W innych utworach gęsty rytm ulega rozrzedzeniu, przez co całość zyskuje na wyboldowaniu detali, akustyczna gitara ma więcej brzmieniowej przestrzeni dla siebie, a i klawisze Mitchella idą stępem, nie galopem. Sam Mitchell dzięki wprowadzeniu do instrumentarium Fender Rhodes i syntezatora Prophet-6 stanowczo poszerza gamę tekstur i brzmień na płycie.
O ile pierwsza płyta "Trickster" zyskała fantastyczne oceny, pisano o niej, jako o "Nowym wymiarze gitary", o tyle nowe nagranie gwarantuje eksplorację kolejnego kręgu z "piekła" Okazakiego, w którym z niezwykłą swobodą mieści zaskakujące wpływy i inspiracje.
Czy spotka się z podobnie spektakularnym odbiorem, czas pokaże, ja jestem pewny, że Okazaki nie raz jeszcze sprawi nam wielką radość!
autor: Marek Wieruszewski
Copyright © 1996-2020 Multikulti Project. All rights reserved

Editor's info:
The Sky Below is guitarist Miles Okazaki‘s fifth album of original compositions, and his second album for Pi Recordings. It is a sequel to Trickster, which was widely extolled and landed on many year-end lists of 2017 including Popmatters (“a mature work for the ages”) and the Los Angeles Times (“immersive, groove-heavy and ultimately immediate”). The album was described by the New York Times as “tenacious futurism,” by The Wall Street Journal as “a true concept album,” and by Pitchfork as “obviously complex, the work of virtuosi. But the resulting beauty is easy to appreciate.” The album received critics’ picks in both Downbeat and JazzTimes, who called it “an intellectually hefty album that feels weightless” and “a real breakthrough.”

Trickster marked the beginning of a new approach to composition for Okazaki, one that is focused on mythology and storytelling and concerned primarily with narrative flow. He describes this inspiration in the liner notes for Trickster: “The trickster figure is an ancient archetype in human folklore. They are creative in nature, using mischief and magic to disrupt the state of things, breaking taboos and conventions, opening doorways. They exist outside of the mainstream, working from the margins, creating movement across the borders. They cause damage and they heal. They are storytellers and improvisers.”

The Sky Below adds a new chapter to the Trickster story, this time based on the classic form of an oceanic voyage. The music follows the Trickster character as it crosses a boundary (“Rise and Shine”), enters the unknown (“Dog Star”), visits magical islands (“Anthemoessa” and “Seven Sisters”), is caught in a storm (“Monstropolous”), abandoned (“The Castaway”), and finds a way home (“The Lighthouse”). The album closes with a microtonal lullaby (“To Dream Again”). Okazaki writes in the liner notes: “If Trickster was the introduction to the characters, the songs on this album are their children, bearing their features but finding their own way. The flight of the Trickster moves across the threshold into the magic world, traverses sea and sky, visits ancient islands, is tested in the tempest, is abandoned, and returns with stories to tell. The titles and themes of the compositions are borrowed from writings about the Sea, the endless source of symbolism involving mystery, creation, and terrible power.” (Detailed explanations of the titles can be found at milesokazaki.com/the-sky-below-2019)

For these songs, Okazaki took each of the compositions from Trickster, reduced them to their basic components, and rewrote new compositions from this genetic material to carry on the story to a new generation with symbolic and sonic continuity. As with much of Okazaki’s music, the movement is created with a variety of rhythmic structures and illusions with the focus always on groove and rhythmic feel as a storytelling vehicle.

The material for The Sky Below was developed while touring with a new version of the Trickster band, a quartet of Okazaki on guitar, Matt Mitchell (taking over for Craig Taborn, who appeared on the first album) on piano, Anthony Tidd on electric bass, and Sean Rickman on drums. Okazaki got a sense of Mitchell’s skill set after working for several years on the material for the latter’s Phalanx Ambassadors (Pi 2019) album. He describes Mitchell’s role in the band: “Matt can do certain things on the fly, like generative improvising from cells and transformations, which is important for these tunes. He can play in a way that totally avoids “licks” – it’s a very pure sound that gives you a lot of options as a composer. Like the song “The Lighthouse,” which is a just a version of a standard, but his approach is oblique enough that it avoids showing all the cards.” The team of Anthony Tidd and Sean Rickman form a seamless rhythmic foundation for the band. Okazaki began playing with them in saxophonist Steve Coleman’s Five Elements. Together, they demonstrate the balancing act of negotiating abstract musical information while maintaining an unstoppable rhythmic drive.

The album is also informed by an intense period of compositional study that Okazaki undertook in creating WORK, a six-album solo guitar recording of the complete compositions of Thelonious Monk that he released in August 2018. It was the first time the entire songbook had been recorded on a solo instrument, and the project received much critical praise, landing on more than a dozen best-of-2018 lists, including the New York Times, which called it “a monumental statement of devotion.” WBGO described it as “an act of immersive scholarship and exhaustive scope… a singular achievement,” and NPR’s Fresh Air called it “heroic” and “epic.” The Sky Below is a direct result of Okazaki’s extreme exploration of Monk’s vision: In trying to create the symbolic system of the Trickster recordings, Okazaki went back to the well of the great composer for inspiration for how to create an idiosyncratic sonic world of his own.

The Sky Below marks the first time that Okazaki has used guitar effects on his own albums since his debut release, MIRROR, in 2006. He is known primarily for possessing a clean acoustic sound played on the Gibson ES-175 Charlie Christian that he has used for the last 25 years. But here, he utilizes five different guitars to continually shift the sonic impression. Recent work with producer/guitarist David Torn on Mitchell’s Phalanx Ambassadors and tours with guitarist Mary Halvorson’s quartet playing the music of John Zorn informed the types of effects used, and the quarter tone guitar used on “To Dream Again” was built for work with Amir ElSaffar’s “Rivers of Sound” project. In order further expand the sound, Okazaki also invented several virtual instruments in Pure Data, a visual computer programming language. Rather than using commercial software, Okazaki painstakingly designed the programs using the same musical concepts as the compositions themselves. He improvised on these instruments to create raw musical material that was then fed through the Prophet-6 with Matt Mitchell manipulating the sounds in real time. This is heard most explicitly on track that begins the second half of the album, “Monstropolous.” With its carefully-crafted narrative structure and expansive use of studio techniques, The Sky Below evokes the fathomless depths of the sea, both familiar and strange.

JazzTimes * * * *:
The first sound you hear on Miles Okazaki’s latest album is something familiar: the warm, springy, and crisp tone of his Gibson Charlie Christian model guitar. However, that small bit of comfort quickly gives way to a rush of new, rumbling sounds as his quartet launches into the adventure proper of The Sky Below. It’s a sequel of sorts to his previous recording of original material, 2017’s The Trickster, with Okazaki and his new quartet channeling a kind of epic storytelling through the Charybdis swirl of their music.

For The Trickster, Okazaki turned to legends of tricksters as inspiration—think the Norse god Loki or the West African spider god Anansi. He continues that line of thought on The Sky Below but takes cues from tales of the sea; more Odyssey, less Br’er Rabbit. The group thrashes stormily on “Dog Star,” Okazaki and pianist Matt Mitchell pushing and pulling against each other like ocean waves in the tempest. Bassist Anthony Tidd and drummer Sean Rickman add to the onslaught on “Monstropolous,” which beats out Lennie Tristano’s “Descent into the Maelstrom” as the most terrifyingly realistic sonic portrait of a whirlpool. The four play circular patterns that spiral downward, unrelenting and dizzying in their pull.

These are just two stops on the eight-track journey; others allow Okazaki to play with the conventional sounds associated with sea and shore. A series of chords suggesting calm, beachside-cabana bossa nova on “Seven Sisters” grows into towering, foreboding melodic exchanges between Okazaki and Mitchell. On “The Castaway,” the quartet makes isolation feel palpable as the guitar wanders disjointedly over the rhythm section, seemingly adrift. Okazaki knows where he’s going, but the music plays the trick all too well.
by Jackson Sinnenberg

All About Jazz * * * *:
Electric guitarist Miles Okazaki—also using electronics—and his rhythm section comprise three-fifths of alto sax great Steve Coleman's current band, as keyboardist Matt Mitchell rounds out this quartet for the leader's second release for Pi Recrodings, but his fifth album overall. And while the album length is a little over 39-minutes, many artists are cutting back some to accommodate the resurgence of LPs. However, quality is the key as Okazaki's idiosyncratic playing and multitiered compositions yield the knockout punch, framed on his penchant for conceptual translations of mythology. Moreover, a source of interest relates to the artist refabricating comps from Trickster (PI, 2017) with the intentions of developing new storylines, using the elemental configurations of these previously recorded pieces.

The guitarist's intricately designed song-forms often encompass weaving dialogues, super-funk grooves and flickering unison notes with Mitchell atop bulbous pulses, odd-metered accents and smoldering crescendos. Okazaki's complex and sinuous lines are occasionally animated, offset by blistering superspeed flurries and a host of reengineering processes. Meanwhile, bassist Anthony Tidd lays down some guerrilla lines and firm grooves in conjunction with drummer Sean Rickman's bristling fills and shifting cadences. For example, Okazaki's diverse bag of tricks is highlighted on "Seven Sisters," which is etched with an elongated melody line and a downward trajectory, sprinkled with ominous connotations, and contrasted with Mitchell's lower register piano voicings. But "The Lighthouse" is a mid-tempo motif, amped up by the soloists' breakneck momentum, anchored by Tidd's beefy support and peppered with Rickman's slippery snare drum hits.

Mitchell's acute use of a Prophet-6 synth adds a colorful twist to certain tracks and serves him well during "To Dream Again," where he counterbalances the guitarist's cordial acoustic guitar phrasings to consummate a blissful theme. Sure enough, Okazaki is on a fast track to the upper strata of modern innovators who possess unique voices amid a wide-ranging glimpse into the future of the jazz-making revelry.
By Glenn Astarita

JazzTrail.net
The advanced musical skills by contemporary jazz guitarist Miles Okazaki continue to impress on his new quartet effort The Sky Below. His sixth album as a leader is a natural follow-up to Trickster, whose tracks were reduced to their basic components before being transformed into new material that sonically illustrates an oceanic odyssey. The results are superior to those presented on the aforementioned 2017 Pi Recordings release. In what concerns to the personnel, the novelty here is the inventive keyboardist Matt Mitchell, who, replacing Craig Taborn with more advantage than loss, denotes an incredible rapport with the bandleader. The collaborative venture in question is grounded on the attractive rhythmic decors of bassist Anthony Tidd and drummer Sean Rickman.

The lead-off track, “Rise and Shine”, is launched with a beautiful integration of guitar, piano, and bass, before Rickman contributes a superlatively spunky rhythm that is responsible for an anxious shift of mood. A polyrhythmic flux of energy invades the unorthodox danceable setting, and the piece ends with an urgent, effect-laden combination of guitar and keyboards.

A funk bass ostinato sets the groove of the trippy “Dog Star”, a M-base exaltation heightened by ideas that repeat and expand. There’s a bracing energy throughout and moments of tight synchronization. Okazaki and Mitchell share the joy of taking risks and a taste for highly intricate language as they solo with admirable concentration and sense of aesthetic. Their improvisational resources also come to the forefront on “The Lighthouse”, a sophisticated reading of a standard packed with gorgeous parallel lines and relentless vibrancies. It ends surprisingly bluesy.

Brimming with a melancholic groove and dazzling acoustic guitar strums, “The Castaway” is melodically challenge in its avant-pop overture. Yet, it sounds accessible when compared with the art-rock unconventionalities of “Seven Sisters”, whose peculiar dialogue of tone-shifting rhythmic figures shows a preference for convergence rather than disparity.

“Monstropolous” is a rip-roaring rollercoaster of curious expressions proper for a modern dance floor. Its fast pulsation differs from the strange and beautiful musings of “Anthemoessa”, which incorporates distortion as it grows more and more compact, and “To Dream Again”, expertly conceived with microtonal dissonance. Although brought to life with a searching quality, these simmering slow jams show some sadcore tendencies.

Definitely rewarding a deep dive from the listener, this masterwork uses ingenious rhythmic tapestries, mind-boggling grooves, harmonic erudition, and acrobatic stunts in the melody to tell a story with a lot to be absorbed, felt, and pictured. Avoiding comfort zones, Okazaki, who brings five different guitars and multiple effects to the setting, stretches his musical views as a composer and instrumentalist. The Sky Below is for unconditional exploration.
by FILIPE FREITAS

muzycy:
Miles Okazaki - guitars, electronics
Matt Mitchell - piano, Fender Rhodes, Prophet-6
Anthony Tidd - electric bass
Sean Rickman – drums

utwory:
1. Rise and Shine 04:25
2. Dog Star 06:25
3. Anthemoessa 4:15
4. Seven Sisters 4:58
5. Monstropolous 2:44
6. The Castaway 5:31
7. The Lighthouse 6:39
8. To Dream Again 5:37

wydano: October 25, 2019
nagrano: Recorded at The Samurai Hotel, Astoria, NY on June 13-14, 2019 by Mike Marciano and Max Ross and June 29, 2019 by Max Ross

more info: www.pirecordings.com

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