Pat O'Keefe

Unbalancing Act

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This democratic quartet of improvisers sounds like they claim allegiance to no one in particular, except themselves, maybe Sun Ra. They collectively assume co-composers credits on these seven selections which range from far out to further out. Bar lines are for the most part scrapped, the harmonic saturation point is well beyond 100-percent, and Jason Stanyek's unique quarter tone and fretless electric guitar sounds, which defy description, are at the base of their musings. Pat O'Keefe is heard on clarinet or bass clarinet, Scott Walton primarily on arco and pizzicato acoustic upright bass, some prepared piano, and Glen Whitehead on trumpet. Three pieces are quite lengthy; "Semi-Breakable Containers" at 15 minutes, incorporates somewhat of a beat with Walton's bass, it's even semi-funky, as Whitehead leads down the snake path, followed by Stanyek's goofy, psychedelic guitar. "Tenebrae" at 11-and-a-half minutes, has Stanyek plucking on the koto while O'Keefe's bass clarinet questions his motives. The almost-19-minute "Heeboyoyo" is like four rocket ships taking off. Walton's bowed, ripchord bass is the booster. Whitehead's growling or ducky trumpet and Stanyek's freaked-out guitar overloads already burned out circuits, but keep the mission going to the crab nebula through a series of space storms and galactic warp signatures, courtesy of O'Keefe's softly screeching bass clarinet. They end with three minutes of collective improvising, as if having landed, scanning the terrain. "Warp Soup" has a deep chordal blues motif surrounded by chaos from the others. "Sonia," "17x," and "Micro Major" are the shorties, the first two workouts for guitar, a bit more twangy during the latter, the finale 1:19 of swelling sounds, pulsing from an alien blowfish infected with nuclear material. All sci-fi. As you might be able to tell, the imagery from this music is stark, palpable, and very real. This is a wild-assed CD no faint hearts should touch. But those reaching out for contact with that all-too-distant universe might want to seek and explore, along with these forward-thinking musicians.

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