The world as we know it most likely is breaking apart, but some bands may hold it together. The trio of American violist and electronics player Jessica Pavone, leader of her own string ensembles and close collaborator of Mary Halvorson, Austrian drummer Lukas Koenig, member of the free improvising trio MOPCUT and the electric jazz band Kompost3, and keyboardist-guitarist Matt Mottel, of Talibam! fame, is such a trio. This ad-hoc trio recorded its free-range sonic stew Spam Likely at Metropolitan Sound in Brooklyn in September 2019, a day after the unexpected passing of Steve Dalachinsky (1946-2019), a beat poet and artist who witnessed and supported this kind of free and bold music.
The cathartic performance of the trio was informed by fond memories of such kindred spirits as Dalachinsky, merging images, and resonant emotions. The first extended piece «Binge Listen» focuses on experimental, free improvised textures that sketch the broad musical languages of this trio. Mottel introduces twisted, fusionist tones on his vintage keytar and the 3-string guitar, Koening abstracts his ideas with fragmented, dramatic pulse and Pavone contributes poetic viola lines with some noisy electronics. Somehow, Pavone, Koening and Mottel manage to lock on a simple, rhythmic-cyclical theme and keep grinding it until it morphs into an alternative, acoustic and powerfully addictive techno-like beat and then ends with a swinging free jazz mode and a brief abstract drone.
The second extended, title piece – a wordplay on the increasing number of spam calls we receive these days that asks the obvious question: what happens if you pick up? – suggests at first a mysterious and dark, sci-fi soundtrack, full of dramatic, surprising and unsettling turns. It sounds like even such a futurist soundscape is troubled by strange, spam-like calls until the trio sets its engines into a more harmonious and playful deep space and then shifts back gently into a simple and emotional, earthly dance, in a similar, natural flow of the first piece.
Jessica Pavone (viola, elec), Lukas Koenig (dr), Matt Mottel (keytar, 3 string g)