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«Martian Kitties»

Canadian, Vancouver-based guitarist and oud player Gordon Grdina and American drummer Jim Black’s first collaboration were in Grdina’s Nomad Trio (also featuring Matt Mitchell) that released its debut album last year (Skirl, 2020). «Martian Kitties» suggests a much looser version of Grdina and Black.

«Martian Kitties» is a free improvised meeting that triggers the inventing and most experimental tendencies of Grdina and Black and radiates the great fun these adventurous musicians had in the studio, as reflected by the titles of the 13 pieces. The opening title piece offers fiery and spiky dynamics but Grdina and Black do not subscribe to any dynamics, mood, sonic envelope or genre. Black has played asymmetrical rhythmic patterns in his Balkan quartet Pachora and knows how to spin Grdina’s irreverent improvisations on the oud on «A Monkey Can Do It», «Short Scale» and «Unorthodox Conversation».  And Grdina and Black demonstrate that they know how to build cathartic tension «Buggy Whip».

Other pieces like the cinematic and mysterious drones «Black Lodge» and «Social Science 1 & 2» navigate into exotic territories. «Weird Funk» twists raw funk with distorted, industrial sounds. «Brushes With Death» captures best their immediate and deep affinity and the inclusive scope of their musical universes, embracing art-rock, fusion, noise, electronica and world music, but spinning all in a highly original and unpredictable manner. «Fuzzy Goats» visits weird and noisy electronics-laden seas.  And «Abercrombie» alternates between the ethereal, melancholic atmosphere that sounds like paying respect to the late John Abercrombie’s ECM albums, but with a dark, distorted undercurrent, and a tight guitar and drums dynamics. This album closes with the gentle and most beautiful, hymn-like ambiance of «Bear Handler».

Grdina and Black sense of fun is simply infectious. Waiting anxiously for their next adventure.

Eyal Hareuveni

Gordon Grdina (g, oud),  Jim Black (dr, elec)

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