No Stars Please


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No Stars Please Review

by François Couture

The two-CD set No Stars Please is the first album from San Diego collective Trummerflora, although the label Accretions (these artists' rallying point) already released two compilation albums under that title. This album captures the collective live on five different occasions, from nightclubs to performance spaces to public radio. The general lineup includes seven musicians: Marcos Fernandes (percussion/electronics), Nathan Hubbard (percussion), Hans Fjellestad (keyboards/electronics), Damon Holzborn (guitar/electronics), Robert Montoya (percussion/sampler), Marcelo Radulovich (bass/electronics), and Jason Robinson (woodwinds). This formation is augmented on "From the Waste Up" by Ellen Weller (woodwinds) and, most importantly, on "Frosty the Snowman/Silent Night" by three guest stars: free jazz trombonist George Lewis, experimental percussionist Lê Quan Ninh, and ex-Frank Zappa guitarist Mike Keneally. The sound quality goes from OK to poor, as these pieces were probably recorded with ambient microphones at the back of the hall. Trummerflora plays long free improvisations (20 to 30 minutes) rooted in a rock (even space rock) idiom. They often wander around aimlessly until they strike a riff or a groove. Some textures turn out nicely, like the middle section of "Third Time" and the end of "From the Waste Up." The aforementioned "Frosty the Snowman/Silent Night," with Lewis quoting bits of the famous tunes, is actually quite entertaining. No Stars Please shows promise, but it would have gained a lot from better recording conditions and some tasteful editing in order to keep the best portions only and reduce it to a single disc affair.

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