In Other WordsSGL 1591-2
“…dense yet inventive; hypnotic but never sluggish. A rewarding sonic experience.”
This is the 5th recording (the first on Songlines) by Montreal percussionist Gossage’s Other Voices. The group, which he started in 1998 as a vehicle for his compositions, has evolved into one where creation in the moment completes the compositional process. Gossage takes a sculptor’s approach to sound, inspiring his musicians to carve out forms and concepts through structured group improvisations which demonstrate their quick yet thoughtful responses. Combine Braxton’s love of abstruse counterpoint and borderline atonality with Varese’s manner of animating blocks of sound, throw in a wry sense of humor, inject just a dash of chaos – and you get an experimental jazz record that is attractively varied as well as engaging on deeper levels.
The group took its current form in 2005 when guitarist Steve Raegele joined. (Thom and Miles Perkin are in Steve’s trio, and Thom produced Steve’s Last Century, which Songlines released in 2010.) Thom (b. 1962) started playing rock, then jazz, then fusion, then more open jazz, “which brings me to where I am now, a type of open work that takes many elements from experimental classical music. This comes from my experiences in dance with choreographer Isabelle Van Grimde [with whom Thom has been collaborating for over 20 years]. Isabelle begins with a series of movements that the dancers learn, they then employ methods to improvise with them. They create relationships with the other dancers around them and with the architectural and sonic environment (music) using many components, many based on new musical compositional techniques such as opposition, retrograde, negative space, augmentation. This type of work corresponds directly to the way I approach the improvisation in the group and how I compose – the core elements are abstraction, chance, discovery and the open playing field.”
“With In Other Words my inspiration was an abstract painting [by Van Grimde] and its metamorphosis from an original figure.” (See the liner notes for more on that.) “Although I use tone rows and atonality I by no means adhere to a strict system. For each composition I have numerous pieces of musical information to choose from, and it then becomes a question of how they work together or how they make up the character of the composition. This assemblage is very intuitive. The key to the current music of Other Voices is that it almost completely comes from a melodic place. Sometimes the melodies are in unison, often there are many melodies overlapping, and they are placed within a pulse frame rather than more rigid time and harmonic structures. I’m also a big fan of suspension and release, creating blocks of music that answer to each other.”
“I feel very fortunate in the group of musicians I get to play with. It feels like an incredibly well-oiled machine every time we play. I think the years of playing together create a collective consciousness that can’t be underestimated. The whole thing is very organic, though we all have our own compositional styles. I’ve played with Miles in numerous contexts over the last 9 years. He played on all of my CDs except the first one, as I played on his three recordings [the latest featuring French pianist Benoît Delbecq and British trumpeter Tom Arthurs]. I love his use of more minimal-type structures and some of the improv games he employs, and his sense of melody over extended periods is his own. Steve is a very unique player. I think he comes from a strong rhythmic place but has his own voice improvisationally which includes a lot of textures, something I love in a guitarist. I also like some of the more rock/indie influences in his music. What I love about Rémi and Frank is how different they are as players. Rémi is much more cerebral and angular while Frank has a more visceral, earthy approach. It’s a question of opposites filling out the painting. Rémi and I go way back to the 80s, when we played in a band called the Jazz Beards. We also discovered M-base together and I played in the Rémi Bolduc Electric Band. Frank and I play in numerous contexts, with Rainer Wiens (Dream Algebra), in Frank’s ensemble Mtl 4, and in the Phoenix Trio.”
Gossage also currently performs in the Erik Hove Trio and Wiens’ Kalimba Duo, and is excited about his electronic sound installation for a new Van Grimde Corps Secrets piece, The Body in Question(s), which will premiere in May 2012 and tour across Canada. For more info: thomgossage.com, steveraegele.com, milesperkin.com, remibolduc.com.
“…Increasingly busy with his own ensembles, Gossage’s innovative percussion work can also be heard alongside Benoît Delbecq, François Houle, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Ben Monder, among many others….A Mirror Top 10 pick for 2011, the CD mixes jazz, rock, electronic and world ingredients into an accessible yet highly original and structurally complex mix…‘One of the key elements I’m trying to avoid in our music is the dreaded automatic pilot,’ Gossage says. ‘I look for restrictions that will direct the soloist to a place they might not intuitively go. It’s a real challenge for the musician but very rewarding. The music is rich in texture and invites the audience on a journey.’ ” – Lawrence Joseph, Montreal Mirror