The Dialectical Imagination piano/drums duo of Eli Wallace and Rob Pumpelly have a name for their brand of free-improv chamber music: “ecstatic music.” The Oakland, CA-based pair are set to release their first album with the ambitious title The Angle and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture (February 1, 2017 via Atma Nadi Records), a presentation of music that’s informed by deft musicianship but rides on waves of passion.
The music that Dialectical Imagination play doesn’t heed to a particular set style; it heeds to some invisible, intuitive force that guides them through tonality and dissonance, barren and overflowing. That manifests the most in their longest performance “Sky In Eye Free of I,” rich with melody but also full of unexpected turns and free flowing in its delivery, moving from richly melodious to disruptive. “Refusing Confusion” is avant-classical that goes from gaunt to thick and back again. That track runs without interruption right into “Immutable Light,” the centerpiece of which is Pumpelly’s pattering tom rolls.
“Rungs” is balls-out free piano and drums, making a soft landing to “Turnabout,” which has it’s own energy, but diffused. Here, a simple figure sandwiches an adventurous course through sound sketches. A sublime cymbal cloud presentation leads to Wallace’s grand rhapsody on “Deepest Views Horizon You.”
Almost as if to underscore a way of thinking that’s outside the norm, The Angle and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture will be sold in the form of a USB flash drive disguised as a cassette. While that might be source for amusement, the music it contains is serious art. Seriously good art, too.
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