JASON ROBINSON: Cerberus Reigning (Accretions Records)


Posted on Feb 11th 2011 01:30 am

Filed in Albums | Tags: ,
Comments (0)

Jason Robinson: Cerberus Reigning

Cerberus Reigning
Accretions Records 2010
16 Tracks. 61mins13secs

Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD iTunes: DLD

Californian-born jazz saxophonist Jason Robinson may have over the years played with a wide range of formations, both as a member and leader, but he has in recent years started to look beyond the realms of jazz to experiment with electro-acoustic performance, using his instrument both in its primary capacity and as a source of sounds which he processes live on computer.

Released a year and a half after Cerberus Rising (Circumvention Music), Cerberus Reigning sees Robinson step away from the bare improvised minimal forms of its predecessor to broaden his scope quite considerably. Here, although the tenor sax is still very much at the core of the record, Robinson adds a soprano sax and an alto flute, and processes his sources much more heavily throughout. Looped, smeared in effects and textured, the instruments become schizophrenic, appearing in a multitude of forms, at once musical devices and source of noise, distortions and textures. Things start pretty neatly on Broken Seals with a single sax motif, but as Robinson reaches a low note, it suddenly fluffs up and becomes a long resonating drone. As the track progresses, a new phrase develops, at first drowned in reverb, then brought into much sharper focus. Syrynx At The Edge Of Nightfall complicates the matter further by distorting a steady loop until it loses its identity and ends up sounding like a bubbling bath. The process is repeated over and over, a new sequence starting as the previous one is disintegrating, until it is eventually thrown off course, allowing a gentle melody to rise above it for a moment.

This tight correlation between acoustic instruments and treated sounds continues to develop throughout, the divide at times appearing very distinctly, at others feeling much fuzzier, to the point where is it sometimes difficult to know exactly where the acoustic stops and the processed starts. In fact, as he layers his performance, it is as if Robinson was taking a perverse pleasure in confusing his audience. This is particularly the case of the three tracks subtitled Synchronous Aether. Referring to a software developed by Robinson which, as he explains in the liner notes, ‘“listens” to the performer, “decides” when and how to sample the performer, then “decides”to play back the samples with or without effects’. This seemingly random operation creates an additional level of unpredictability in the music, but Robinson cultivates the doubt on what exactly is happening on a number of other pieces, whether it is on the disturbingly sombre The Inner Wave, hectic Serpentine Gaze or Some Shall Fall, the latter lasting barely forty seconds, or the rather subtle and melodic title track.

Elsewhere, the distinction between live and mechanical components is clearer. The textured phrases of Stillness Shattered may be distorted, but they appear very real. Equally, the lines of Among Goliaths may burst out in all sorts of directions, but there is very little doubt about their origin, while the simmering electronics of Rising Tide For Humanity provide a somewhat ominous platform for a recurring acoustic motif.

With Cerberus Reigning, Jason Robinson moves on rather notably from its predecessor, as he brings in electo-acoustic treatments and practices. This results in quite a fascinating journey where anything can, and often does, happen. While it demands to pay attention to fully understand its many layers, this album also proves a rewarding challenge when it begins to reveal its many intricacies.


Jason Robinson | Jason Robinson (MySpace) | Accretions Records
Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD iTunes: DLD

Filed in Albums | Tags: ,
Comments (0)

Comments are closed.