The concept of Senilita comes from Italo Svevo's novel Emilio's Carnival. It is a tale of the realization of imagination as a way of being, the acquisition of knowledge never used, and a feeling of cynicism used as either a barrier or reassurance in one's life plan. In a play of opposites, dialectic confluence, and emotional highs and lows, with no middle ground, Minnesota's Milo Fine and Britain's Viv Corringham (transplanted to Fine's home area) team in an extrapolated program of intense questioning, rhetoric, and quip conversations recorded in concert at the Acadian Cabaret Theater in Minneapolis. Other elements include noise, percussive dialogue, and advanced harmonic content that live on a high cloud of artistry. The six extended compositions are far beyond basic musicality, entering into a keen listening sphere with little regard for individual glory, beauty, or accessibility. Fine, on this path since his emergence on the improvised music scene, plays B flat and alto clarinet, exploring the extreme high and low ranges. Corringham is a wordless vocalist capable of any tone, timbre, sound, or scat the human voice can conjure. Take the risky and gargantuan 23 1/2 minute "The Outermost Plank," with stinging guitar courtesy of Charles Gillett, the clattery percussion of Davu Seru, Fine's fractured short phrases, and Corringham's tangential animalistic sounds strung along for real. "Black America" is a haunting statement about African-American oppression and racism. The hushed tones of the quartet speak volumes on the seemingly taboo sentiment -- clearly a non-conversational ethos -- though later in the piece louder protests and assimilated field hollers are evident, and some galloping vocals from Corringham drive the point home. Fine also plays marimba, in duet with the vocalist during "The Virulent Certainty of Ignorance," as Corringham shifts through many phases of emotion and dumbfoundedness, accented in afterthought by a far ranging, overblown, and undertoned clarinet. A title of contradictions, "The Unswerving Punctuality of Chance" has Fine's clarinet as part carnival barker, part auctioneer, as Corringham is near guttural in her pronunciations with Gillett on a lap bowed guitar similar to Fred Frith. "Pajaros De Cuenta" and "The Salamander Departs" bookend the session, the former a standoffish, skittish, and squawky argumentative discourse from the co-leaders, suggesting hot then cooled passive tempers, while the latter has the most unified sound from the full quartet, more electronic and demanding a close listen. How does one really describe this music other than different? Beyond the emotional pale of commercial claptrap, though not for the faint of ear or unchallenged patron, this will require special listening tools to fully embrace the depth and originality Fine and Corringham display from their brimming, searing, and sometimes abdicated souls.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos