Troot — Constance and the Waiting
(Bandcamp no#, 2018, CD / DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2018-11-30
Back in the fall of 2017, there were rumblings in the Seattle experimental music community about something special going on at Bear Creek Studios. Many of the local stalwarts were up there with a selection of international guests to record the music of a local guy named Tim Root, and the word coming out of the sessions was that it was something really special. When the album finally appeared, it was immediately apparent that the buzz was entirely justified. Of course, just bringing together amazing musicians does not in and of itself guarantee success, and for most of us, Root was an unknown quantity. He is a classically trained pianist who has studied modern composition, and a recent sojourn in Paris had resulted in the creation of six pieces of complex and diverse music. To realize this music, participants were gathered from around the world. There were some locals like Amy Denio (sax, accordion, vocals), Bill Horist (guitar), Beth Fleenor (clarinet, bass clarinet, vocals), Steve Ball (acoustic guitar), and Root himself. The rhythm section includes the core of EchoTest: Julie Slick (bass), Marco Machera (bass), and Alessandro Inolti (drums), two of whom are from Italy. And then there’s Nora Germain (violin, from LA) and Alex Anthony Faide (guitar, from Buenos Aires). Right out of the gate, “Axe for the Frozen Sea Within” slams the listener with complex, dissonant harmonies, massive chords on piano with prominent electric guitars. The piece’s introduction features violin and woodwinds, then a rhythmically complex section that builds on a piano part that is both playful and a little ominous-sounding. Other instruments tackle parts which are expertly intertwined like the best moments of Present or Univers Zero. This is amazing, uncompromising music with a distinctive combination of instruments and an expansive artistic vision. The harmonic sophistication and imagination of the arrangements are both stunning, easily equal to anything else in the RIO and chamber rock fields. Root’s vision doesn’t just include writing parts and having them played by talented musicians. There are moments of chaotic improvisation as well, like Fleenor’s intense vocalizations on “Palasidai,” Denio’s sax in “Venice of the Sky,” and numerous places where guitars provide feedback, noise, and effects, including a great atonal blast on “Venice.” There are also some lovely moments that are more quiet and introspective. “Hollow by Footsteps” is quite beautiful, with rich piano chords, low end from the bass clarinet, a melody from the accordion, and some flourishes from the violin, like a modern take on chamber music that Ravel might have written. But for all its beauty, the piece is never sappy or cloying. Constance and the Waiting is an extraordinary achievement, a bold debut for an artist who deserves a place in the ranks of the RIO greats.
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