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Ultraphauna — No No No No
(Dur et Doux DD-065, 2023, CD / 2LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2023-05-22

No No No No Cover art

Ultraphauna is a new name in the music world, but the people behind it are anything but newcomers. The core of the group consists of Timba Harris (violin, trumpet) and Dorothy Wave (keyboards, vocals), and they’re joined by Toby Driver (bass) and Joel C. Murray (drums). Harris is a veteran of such groups as Estradasphere, High Castle Teleorkestra, Master Musicians of Bukkake, Secret Chiefs 3, and many more; Wave is a member of a.P.A.t.T.; and Driver’s resume includes Maudlin of the Well, Kayo Dot, Extra Life, and Secret Chiefs 3. I’m not finding any other credits for Murray, but from his playing on No No No No he’s a fine drummer. Given the musicians’ histories, it should come as no surprise that Ultraphauna’s music is eclectic, multicultural, and a bit schizophrenic. It is at times sparse and improvisational, and at other times tightly arranged and hard-hitting. Harris’ violin is often the most prominent sound on these ten tracks, and his chameleon-like technique takes in styles and moods from around the world. At one point, you’d swear you’re hearing a Chinese erhu, and other times he resembles L. Subramaniam or Shankar. Wave’s keyboards provide evocative backing, and her vocals are fluid and dynamic, often multi-tracked for interesting harmonies. While they don’t shy away from rock sounds, the general trend is more moody and groove-oriented. And the compositions flow more smoothly than some of the groups mentioned previously. You don’t hear a lot of odd juxtapositions within songs — these tracks develop more organically, building up and dropping back dramatically rather than suddenly veering in different directions. As with High Castle Teleorkestra, the group members live in different parts of the world and collaborated remotely, but the result is a very natural-sounding set of music. It’s also one of my favorite releases of the year so far — I certainly hope Ultraphauna remains a going concern and records more music in the future.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Ultraphauna

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