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Vole: The Hillside Mechanisms (2013)

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Vole: The Hillside Mechanisms How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Youthful dynamism and a conglomerate of influences signify a few conspicuous attributes of this European trio's debut album. It's a semi-structured and highly improvised outing. And the musicians pool their resources to indulge in free-form slugfests amid transitory punk-rock grooves, bizarre progressive-rock stylizations and numerous flights into the avant-garde jazz strata. Nonetheless, the band is a lean and mean fighting machine. But the artists do communicate an organized methodology while multitasking via these live performances.

"Rampicanti" is a gangly entrance into the netherworld, sparked by drummer Javier Carmona's textural use of cymbals and trumpeter Roland Ramanan's darting lines, yet the tide shifts on "Slow Burn," as free-jazz meets grunge rock atop odd-metered time signatures and frisky interplay. Here, electric guitarist Roberto Sassi's menacing notes create a frantic mindset as he even tosses in a few melodic hooks to sooth the savage beast, paralleling the quirky unison phrasings executed with Ramanan. Moreover, the trio's experimental approach touches upon balladry and world music, partly constructed with liquefying breakdowns, amped by the guitarist's detuning maneuvers and other off-center treatments.

The musicians' fervent and raw improvisational segments preclude a thriving impetus. "At Times Their Skins Peel Off," is a prime example due to the soloist's disparate tonal swashes, contrasted by the trumpeter's humanistic voicings and gravelly overtones. Otherwise, Sassi's sweeping pulses spawn a broad plane that also contracts and expands, fragmented by Sassi's choppy chord clusters.

Overall, the trio's oscillating momentum and polytonal output serve as platforms for expansion as they generate thrills a minute throughout. Indeed, an outfit that morphs the outside realm into an immensely entertaining chronicle of events.


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


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