Critical Mass is the second album from the unique duo of Chicagoan reeds player Mars Williams and Catalan, Barcelona-based innovative percussionist Vasco Trilla, following the duo’s debut album Spiracle (NotTwo, 2020). Critical Mass, like Spiracle, was recorded at the same location, Thriller Underground Facilities in Barcelona in August 2021.
The atmosphere of Critical Mass is meditative and exotic, and it sounds like a free jazz ritual where Williams and Trilla serve as its high priests, leading their audience in a reflective and introspective, spiritual journey. The album is structured as a five-movement suite that explores mysterious and enigmatic timbres, powerful and intense duels, the suggestive and resonating fusion of reeds and percussive sounds and many playful games.
Throughout Critical Mass Williams and Trilla let their sonic imagination run wild and free. They employ unusual extended breathing and percussive techniques with well-balanced and organic, emphatic and deep listening dynamics. Williams’ sax wils on «The Tongue Set Free» bring to mind the hypnotic dances of the Sufi whirling dervishes, and Trilla, cleverly, pushes him into a high soaring storm. On «Fugu» they offer a timeless and magical, exorcising ceremony but on the following «Thin Air» sounds like a futurist, friendly by cryptic transmission from a faraway higher intelligence. This great meeting ends with the cathartic blowout of the title piece that returns full circle to the ritualist spirit of the opening piece. But, clearly, there is much more until the highly resourceful and ever-inventive Williams and Trilla will reach a sonic critical mass and exhaust all their ideas.
Mars Williams (reeds, toy instruments), Vasco Trilla (drums, percussion)