Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Space Collective 3-Live at Outfest, Medusa 088, cassette

As you are probably well aware, recently the Oxford English Dictionary removed the term cassette tape from its future editions. If you've read this blog recently, you may have also become aware that Disaster Amnesiac has been purchasing, enjoying, and writing about a few cassette tapes of late.
Most recently, I've been digging into Rafael Toral's Space Collective 3, and their cassette tape release, Live at Outfest .
Toral provides "electronic instruments and direction" for the Space Collective, and is joined by Ricardo Dillon Wanke on Rhodes piano and Afonso Simoes on drums and percussion.
The trio burns through three lengthy pieces, seemingly improvised, with a hot sound that is equal parts Avant Garde and Fusion. That they take the most compelling factors from both of these styles (intense interplay based upon subtle auditory communications and high-grade musicianship), makes for a fun, often intense listen.
Far from being there simply to add color, Toral's electronics are right up in the instrumental mix. It's pretty cool to hear them being played as part of the group, the way one would hear a guitar or a sax or any more traditional Jazz instrument,  as Toral by turns comps, solos, or interacts with Dillon Wanke and Simoes. He gets wicked electrified trumpet a la Agartha-era Miles sounds, robotic R2D2 sounds, wispy washes, drones, cracks, and pops. Again, all of this sound action within the broader context of an improvising band.
Ricardo Dillon Wanke also plays his axe masterfully, providing heated electric piano. He takes long solos, comps with tons of space,  even leaves the scene completely, just generally doing whatever the moment requires of him. His keyboard sound may draw from the likes of Larry Young and Joe Zawinul, but it is clear that he is well into his own world.
It is a pleasure to listen to Afonso Simoes's drumming. He mixes powerful chops with free/expressive approaches within all of the tunes. His style is a burbling rhythmic one, much reminiscent of Free masters such as Andrew Cyrille or Shannon Jackson. There is total freedom of playing here, but it is contained within a deep pocket. Simoes is entirely present throughout, driving, commenting upon, and just generally moving the music along.
Cleanly, clearly recorded and well-mastered, Live at Outfest is a great document of a compelling band, utilizing time-honored approaches, all the while, thanks in large part to Rafael Toral's instrumentation, adding unique twists to them. I suspect that subsequent releases will be available in more formats than that of the now non-OED-lexicon'ed cassette. Would that the real-time version would hit a Jazz fest in the S.F. Bay Area! 

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