The name Ritual Habitual of the Rotterdam-based trio – prolific Portuguese bassist Gonçalo Almeida (who works with eight other outfits), Italian reeds and synth player Riccardo Marogna and German drummer Philipp Ernsting – says it all about the purposes at play. This retro-futuristic trio creates ritualistic music with the repetition of addictive motives and grooves as a method, rooted in the spiritual free jazz of the sixties but updated with electronic manipulations. The debut album of the trio Pagan Chant clearly pays its respects to the pioneer masters of free jazz – John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Don Cherry and Charlie Haden, but does not sound like any of them.
The six pieces of Pagan Chant imagine a new kind of dionysian, hallucinogenic tribal chants, inspired by exotic mystical traditions but adapted to the 21st-century colors of electro-acoustic music and beats. You can think of Ritual Habitual as a sonic update to the sacred teachings of powerful shamans described in the popular books of Carlos Castaneda, but now the magical peyote plants are covered with a stimulating layer of futurist electronic sounds. Still, as the trio itself declares, if you would subscribe to other spiritual teachings or go down in Ritual Habitual’s rabbit hole «the present is only a construction, the result of the confluence of what comes from the past and what is beginning to happen».
And as able pagans, Ritual Habitual knows how to build effective chants and inspiring dreamscapes. The tribal pulse of Almeida and Ernsting in «Rite of Passage», the title piece or «Dionysus Carnival» sounds like borrowing rhythmic patterns from techno beats, but Marogna’s soulful bass clarinet and tenor sax anchor these percolating and infectious drives in the free jazz legacy. Almeida’s arco bass playing on the «Psilocybe Cubensis» charges this drone with a strong psychedelic aroma.
«Pagan Chant» offers generous doses of its powerful stuff.
Riccardo Marogna (ts, bcl, synth), Gonçalo Almeida (b), Philipp Ernsting (dr)