Volcano Radar – Electro Parables/Electro Parábalas (2016)

Volcano Radar cover

Volcano Radar was formed back in 2012 when Chicago-based guitarist, composer, eductor and poet Julia Miller found musical chemistry with a multi-instrumentalist and composer from Uruguay, Elbio Barilari. Two very outward thinking musicians who came together from decidedly different backgrounds to exploit some common ground in the playground of experimental, noisy electro-jazz.

Refutation of Time (2013) was the first product of their collaborations put on a record, which also included Harrison Bankhead on cello and basses and Avreeayl Ra on drums. It’s a single, half-hour improv performance that veered from ambient doom to free jazz to experimental thrash rock. Now comes Electro Parables/Electro Parábalas, featuring Volcano Radar whittled down to its core duo. Minus the rhythm section this time, Volcano Radar slips into the twilight between the fullness of sound and silence, and stays firmly fixed in that spot.

Miller undertakes these recordings with a synth guitar as well as an electric one. Barilari, meanwhile, plays a wide spectrum of instruments: soprano sax, flugelhorn, cornet, pocket trumpet, electric viola, electric guitar and electronics. The fascinating thing about them is that the alien, synth-like sounds produced are hand made from real instruments but obviously through the magic of MIDI and various other effects, the two are able to create these space age sonorities that are highly improvisational, but in a group improv sense. It might be hard to pick out what instruments are being played for a lot of the sounds heard on this album (and I won’t attempt to make any guesses here), but Miller and Barilari kind of made that unessential, anyway. They strive for a unique collective din, the means by which it’s achieved isn’t nearly as interesting as the end result.

The three tracks of Electro Parables (“Two Hundred Years of Solitude,” “Memories of a Recent Future” and “Song of the Lunar Albatross”) are often desolate, dark and cold. Yet, each song is a creature, taking in breaths and exhaling, moving in discreetly unpredictable directions and cadences that are dictated by impulse, not calculation.

A perfect escape from the middle-of-the-road where the road itself is nowhere to be found, Electro Parables/Electro Parábalas is artfully divergent from the norm. Both Volcano Radar recordings are available for free from Pan Y Rosas Discos.

*** Grab a download of Electro Parables/Electro Parábalas here. ***

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 jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, 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 https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron