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«Lightning Dreams»

Lightning Dreamers is the eighth album of visionary composer-trumpeter-interdisciplinary artist Rob Mazurek and his Exploding Star Orchestra (ESO), dedicated to the late trumpeter Jaimie Branch (who considered Mazurek a mentor in multiple mediums). It features a scaled-down version of ESO – guitarist Jeff Parker (who first collaborated with Mazurek in Isotope 217), vocalist-poet Damon Locks, drummer Gerald Cleaver, and keyboardists Angelica Sanchez and Craig Taborn, percussionist Mauricio Takara (who plays with Mazurek in the São Paulo Underground), and flutist Nicole Mitchell. The album was recorded mostly at the remote Sonic Ranch studios in Tornillo, West Texas, not far from Mazurek’s current home in Marfa, in September 2021. Mazurek did the album cover art.

Lightning Dreamers offers a futurist, poetic and imaginative meeting of Sun Ra Arkestra’s cosmic grooves with Miles Davis’ proto-fusionist electric bands and the spiritual vision of Art Ensemble of Chicago and its layered rhythmic concepts, colored by Mazurek’s idiosyncratic and inclusive musical approach that incorporates electronics, electronic treatments and post-rock elements. The opening piece “Future Shaman” stresses this approach with its hypnotic-atmospheric beat, Bartok-ian electric guitar riffs, Locks’ poetry and Mazurek returning to playing the trumpet after years of focusing on the cornet. «Shape Shifter» references Mazurek’s time with Isotope 217 with its swinging-fusionist vibe, the vintage Wurlitzer of Taborn and the manipulated spoken poetry of Locks.

Two pieces, «Dream Sleeper» and «Black River» include samples of ESO performing at Sons d’hiver in Paris in February 2022, with Branch, Tomeka Reid, Thomas Roher, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Julien Desprez, Pasquale Mirra, Sanchez, Locks, Mikel Patrick Avery, Chad Taylor and Takara. The first piece highlights Locks’s poetry swirling in a hazy storm of fractured atmospherics. «Black River» is linked to «White River», and both pieces relate to the time Mazurek has spent in the great Rio Negro in Manaus, Brazil, where the Black and White Rivers meet, and where, according to Mazurek, «it is custom and a kind of rebirthing to take a boat to the dividing/divining line of these two great rivers and dive into and through, as an affirmation of the simple premise that we all come from the same place… the stars». «Black River» is a poetic-spiritual collage of ESO’s live and in the studio incarnations with Mazurek’s trumpet soaring beautifully over the intense, rhythmic commotion. «White River» is a lyrical conclusion,  reflecting a reverent feeling toward the past, present and future spirits along these mighty rivers.

Eyal Hareuveni

Rob Mazurek (tp, v, launeddas, elec. treatments);,Jeff Parker (g), Craig Taborn (Wurlitzer, moog matriarch), Angelica Sanchez (Wurlitzer, p, moog sub 37), Damon Locks (v, elec, samplers, text), Gerald Cleaver (dr), Mauricio Takara (el.perc, perc), Nicole Mitchell (fl, v), Cathlene Pineda (synth.b)

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