Vole: The Hillside Mechanisms (2013)
Guitarist Roberto Sassi proves fundamental to the diversity. He takes on multiple guises veering from rocky bombast to scratchy pointillism, and occasionally taking on bass duties or laying down washes of ambient electronics. Trumpeter Roland Ramanan handles most of the melody lines, but also delves into half valve effects and utilizes an array of mutes to broaden his expressive palette. On drums, Javier Carmona matches every shift with a detailed, even nervy, response: crisp when required in the ensembles but tippy tappy and jumpy at other times.
In the liners Ramanan alludes to the threesome's penchant for setting each other problems with the expectation that they will work something out to provide a resolution. Perhaps the best example of how they deal with such conundrums comes on "Tim's Frosties" when a tricky unison line gradually unravels into three divergent strands of darting trumpet, scrabbling guitar and asymmetric drums. Somehow after eight minutes of spirited exploration, the strands are re-united. What's noteworthy is how captivating they make the process.
Not everything exudes such intensity. "Voiced Unvoiced" passes as a reflective skewed ballad, while "Improctober" pitches the trumpet like some baying animal in a sonic twilight of drones and indeterminate sounds. Ringing the changes once more, the final "Before" opens with Ramanan on oriental wood flute prior to channeling Don Cherry in a wistful world music vibe. Whatever the combination of inspirations, Vole makes the result its own. A unit to follow closely in the future.
Track Listing: No Knees; Rampicanti; Slow Burn; Voiced Unvoiced; Improctober; Tim’s Frosties; At Times Their Skins Peel Off; Before.
Personnel: Roland Ramanan: trumpet; Roberto Sassi: electric guitar and electronics; Javier Carmona: drums.
Record Label: Babel Label