Guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil has chosen the preferred instrument of rock guitarists, the Fender Stratocaster, as the focal point for his creative improvised spontaneous compositions wrapped in forms and functions based in the modern mainstream. The rhythm team of bassist Tom Abbs and drummer Nasheet Waits keeps loose time in check, while front-line players violinist Jean Cook, trumpeter Nate Wooley, and alto saxophonist Aaron Ali Shaikh dart in and out of melody lines, free improv, and counterpoint. The combination produces an arresting sound that approaches an unrivaled sonic text. The centerpiece of the project is the 47-and-a-half-minute title track, split into 27 sections. You hear open-ended spontaneous compositions with complex melodies flowing freely in a static manner. Brawny swing and polyrhythms suggest the influences of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Cecil Taylor, as Eisenbeil's chopped and channeled block chords and blunt single lines construct and deconstruct at will. Very little is serene or introspective up to piece number eight, "Effigy," and number nine, "Totem," while the bass and drums snuggle up to the beautiful unison harmony of number 12, "Walkabout," while number 15, "Dream Breath," is a free bop discourse, number 18, "Wormhole Thief," is basic modal, and number 20, "Dragonfly," presents a complex modality. The end pieces shift to a more liquid, then manic, then chameleonic wash of color and rhythm, with Shaikh's alto voice pronounced, with more sonic textures explored by the finale, "Some Ocean." The remaining three pieces are three to three and three-quarters minutes in length, with two showing the influences of Derek Bailey and Loren MazzaCane Connors on Eisenbeil, and the last cut, "Receding Storm," a sweet return, approaching a parable lullaby, with a very restrained guitar sound that is a polar opposite to the rest of the disc. It's clear Eisenbeil cannot rest on his laurels or previous achievements, and is striving for something quite different. While Inner Constellation is clearly ambitious, talent and smarts are also here, indicating more new music to come.
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