Lina Allemano’s Titanium Riot – Kiss The Brain (2015)

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Lina Allemano is one of the more imaginative trumpet voices coming out of Canada, playing her horn in a highly probing, thoughtful fashion that eschews structure for passion. As such, her music favors the experimental, freeform side of jazz, and she thrives in this setting. She’s long led an avant-jazz quartet, the Lina Allemano Four, but her quest for testing the outer limits of jazz didn’t stop there as she started another experimentally-minded group with Titanium Riot a couple of years ago.

Also a quartet, Lina Allemano’s Titanium Riot explores electro-acoustic avenues for Allemano, who with bassist Rob Clutton, drummer Nick Fraser and Ryan Driver manning an analog synth, engage in group improv that amid some electric sounds, flows and breathes organically. Kiss The Brain is the first official document from a band that grew out of Titanium Trio, consisting of a couple of live tracks and four more that were most likely performed ‘live’ in the studio.

When you hear the blares and growls of the old synth, the lumbering bass and the crashing drums, it’s not difficult to draw some comparisons to Miles, circa 1974, without the guitars. And Allemano’s deft use of the space between the notes only invites more such comparisons. But the wide range of passion she invests in her horn and her unique enunciations on it owe more to another outward-think trumpet great: Wadada Leo Smith.

And Miles never quite got as free as Titanium Riot gets on Kiss The Brain: “Kiss” is a frictionless exchange of ideas where Clutton competes with Allemano for leading remarks and Driver at times assumes the rock guitar role with his synthesizer. As is the pattern for most of their improvs, a blast of energy is expended, followed by some downtime of brooding passages where Allemano ruminates and contemplates. The live “Into the Sprig of Parsley” Fraser lopes along at a stuttering strut as Driver mimics a Farfisa organ. Allemano plays with an unhurried, natural cadence and as the band behind her begins to churn she rides over it instead of accelerating.

“For Heaven’s Sake” is another fine example of how good band synergy can fuel a performance. A lumbering bass, screechy synth sounds and continuously variable timekeeping keeping set the stage for Allemano’s flights on a song that turns on the slightest remark. She slurs her notes on “Nose-Coloured Glasses” pausing to let each remark sink in, then perks up to dramatic effect. In the meantime, Clutton’s bass goes high to take on guitar role alongside Fraser’s twitchy drums and Driver’s synth played like a spooky old organ. It’s an entrancing mix of sinister, chaos and suspense.

Lina Allemano’s Titanium Riot plays jazz without barriers or borders using a blank slate and the wherewithal to quickly fill it up with complete sketches that are engaging, provocative and esoteric. Kiss The Brain gets Allemano’s latest project off on solid footing.

Visit Lina Allemano’s website and order Kiss The Brain here.

Allemano is about to take Titanium Riot down to the U.S.A. for a tour there after kicking off in Toronto. Here are the dates and places:

Sun, May 10th
The Tranzac, Toronto 10:00pm

Tues, May 12th
Space Exchange Series at Thunderbird Cafe, Pittsburgh PA 9:00pm

Thurs, May 14th
Creative Music in DC at Union Arts DC, Washington DC 8:00pm

Fri, May 15th
Fire Museum Presents at The First Banana, Philadelphia PA 8:00pm

Sat, May 16th
Ibeam Brooklyn, Brooklyn NY 8:30pm
(opening set by Ellery Eskelin/Nick Fraser)

Mon, May 18th
Bop Stop at the Music Settlement, Cleveland OH 7:00pm

Wed, May 20th
Sound of the City Workshop, Constellation, Chicago IL 9:30pm

Thurs, May 21st
Cliff Bell’s, Detroit MI 8:00pm

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on,, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at
S. Victor Aaron
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