SLUMGUM: Quarboard Flavoured Fiber (Accretions Records)


Posted on Jun 7th 2011 01:20 am

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Slumgum: Quardboard Flavored Fibre

Quardboard Flavored Fibre
Accretions Records 2011
11 Tracks. 56mins25secs

Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD iTunes: DLD

Los Angeles-based quartet Slumgum, which comprises Jon Armstrong (tenor sax, clarinet), Rory Cowal (piano, Rhodes), Dave Tranchina (bass, clothespins) and Trevor Anderies (drums), first appeared over three years ago with a self-titled album, published on their own imprint, but the band had been honing their style by performing live for some time prior to this, seamlessly blending composed and improvised work. While their primary concern is as a jazz formation, Slumgum’s music also finds some roots in classical music, especially through Cowal’s fluid and elegant piano playing, and on occasions, world music.

With their new album, Slumgum create an intricate mesh of vibrant acoustic sounds, woven into pieces which are at times dense and full of energy (Big Fun (New Ruckus), the mid section of Eshu’s Trick, some parts of the title track or the latter part of Big Fun (Buzz Saw Flower Blossom)), at others much more refined (Big Fun (Running In A Dream), Afternoon, Puce Over Pumpkin With A Hint Of Lime). What is consistent throughout however is their clever use of space, and how instruments continually interact with each other. Never at any point is there a feeling of one instrument leading the others, but equally, there is a strong sense of order and direction running through this record. While this is not uncommon in jazz formations, especially those favoring an improvisation approach, it contributes greatly to the coherence of this record. Slumgum have been performing together for some time, and this level of experience can be heard in how respectful of each other’s space they are. Expectedly, drums and bass provide the backbone for the majority of the tracks, and they serve that purpose with confidence, but they are neither driving these tracks nor finding themselves relegated to the back. Instead, their respective positions are integrant part of the overall narrative deployed here. The same goes for piano and sax, which draw some impressionist motifs on Big Fun (Running In A Dream) or Big Fun (Street Puddle Rainbow), appear particularly sharp and dreamy on Afternoon or find themselves locked in playful exchanges in the opening minute of Puce Over Pumpkin. They undoubtedly work together to provide the logical counterpoint to the rhythm section, but this album is above all the result of four musicians working together toward a common goal.

This is further emphasised by the fact that each musician contributes at least one track to the record, two for Anderies and Tranchina, but this never appears to alter the dynamic of the music, to the point where the title track, credited to Armstrong, provides Cowal with his most elaborate and spread-out performance of the whole record. And when the quartet share compositional duties on five of the shorter Big Fun pieces, they demonstrate just how extensive their range is, from the almost rock slant of New Ruckus to the peaceful and ethereal Natural Liberation to the more contrasted and experimental Buzz Saw Flower Blossom and The Bellows.

Quardboard Flavored Fibre is a pretty impressive piece of work all round. Feeling at times pretty classic in its format, yet infused with very contemporary energy and vision, it is at once fresh and imaginative, and is yet another fine addition of the Accretions catalogue.


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

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