Roberto Maria Zorzi, Michael Manring, Scott Amendola – Facanapa & Umarells and the World Wide Crash (2018)

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Three veteran aces of improvised music take electrified free form to new places: Italian guitarist Roberto Maria Zorzi along with San Francisco Bay Area bassist Michael Manring and drummer Scott Amendola convened for a truly wonderfully warped session that’s intensely impulsive. Facanapa & Umarells and the World Wide Crash fully exploits the boundless acuity of all three to make music that has little precedence and turns its idiosyncrasy into real potency. Henry Kaiser, a close colleague of all three of these guys who wrote the liner notes, ends his essay by declaring “the two things that I appreciate most about listening to any music is being surprised and hearing things that I have never heard before. That’s what I hear going on here.” (emphasis added by Kaiser).

The album opens with an unlikely cover, that of a 1967 Country Joe McDonald deep cut instrumental “Colors For Susan.” Kaiser had previously taken on this tune — and probably no one else until now — but it’s actually not hard to imagine the allure of this instrumental to those inclined toward heavy improvisation. The free flowing of heavily arpeggiated chords leaves open such a void to either create inside or leave open for the listener’s imagination fill in the blanks. Here, Amendola artfully makes some hay and in the meantime, Michael Manring smooths out Zorzi’s rough tones.

The other three selections, which are all conjured up together instinctively, are longer, some much longer. “Facanàpa & Umarells and the World Wide Crash” is nearly a half hour of a sonic adventure far, far outside the norms. Amendola keeps very busy, applying an array of both ambient and astringent electronic effects, dropping unencumbered drums wherever the time seems right. Zorzi’s guitar gets ever more off the hinges until it’s virtually indistinguishable from the circuit-bent fx. Even without the pedals, he’s playing guitar that picks up where Derek Bailey left off and takes it much further. Manring stays just below the surface but is somehow able to find a tonal center. The gates of hell are flung open nearly sixteen minutes in, with Zorzi’s guitar insanely overdriven and his rhythm section acting more as a furious doom section. A much briefer buildup and release follows, but with more melody and less electro-enhancements.

“La Ballata Di Pipetta E Samo” is way gentler, even spiritual, but just as alien. You’ll never hear such sumptuous, yawning sounds that Michael Manring wrests from an electric bass and Zorzi’s elusive looping effects has his notes playing backwards as well as forward, together. Amendola’s exotic spurts of percussion come in and out of focus to complete the perfect music for some psychedelic rain forest.

The randomly jamming “La Ballata Di Pipetta E Samo” might lack the palpable form of the other performances, but worth the listen just to behold these musicians react to each other instantaneously.

In sizing up the totally unpredictable Facanapa & Umarells and the World Wide Crash, I keep coming back to those words from Henry Kaiser about what he appreciates the most in music, because I’m kind of like that as well. This record relentlessly delivers on those surprises with sounds heretofore unheard.

*** Purchase Facanapa & Umarells and the World Wide Crash from CDBaby ***


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
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