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«The Devil, Probably»

The Devil, Probably brings together – remotely – three young and brilliant free improvisers – American-Japanese, Los Angeles-based sax player Patrick Shiroishi with Catalan, Barcelona-based double bass player Àlex Reviriego and percussionist-magician Vasco Trilla, all deeply involved in reconfiguring their sonic palettes with unforeseen references and sounds. Their collaboration is an inspiring exercise of freedom and rapport, marvelously grating and sweet at once. The title of the trio and its self-titled debut album most likely references French director Robert Bresson’s film of the same name from 1977. You can call it pure devilish bliss!

Music writer Joshua Minsoo Kim, who wrote the liner notes, quotes the Japanese artist closely associated with Fluxus, Takako Saito, speaking of the role of artists as «trying to challenge, to make oneself new and encourage others to. If not, I think there is no real meaning of being an artist». Another artistic reference is Steve Lacy’s famous answer to pianist Frederic Rzewski who asked to describe the difference between composition and improvisation in 15 seconds. «In composition, you have all the time you want to decide what to say in 15 seconds, while in improvisation you have 15 seconds», Lacy answered. Joshua Minsoo Kim brings another anecdote that reflects on the spirit of The Devil, Probably, this time from Derek Bailey’s landmark 1980 book Improvisation: «In all its roles and appearances, improvisation can be considered as the celebration of the moment. It exists because it meets the creative appetite that is a natural part of being a performing musician because it invites complete involvement, to a degree otherwise unobtainable, in the act of music-making».

Despite the tasking nature of long-distance correspondence and the need to improvise separately and not in real-time, to audio files Shiroishi, Reviriego and Trilla sent to each other, these gifted musicians managed to create a highly immersive and imaginative sonic identity for The Devil, Probably. They sound as constantly mirroring, resonating and extending each other sonic palette, obviously, with an array of breathing, bowing and percussive extended techniques. But they do so in such a reserved, introspective and almost unassuming manner that it becomes so tempting to simply surrender to the potent and highly addictive incantations and spells and gently float with it, wherever it may take you.  Often it is impossible to tell who produces these intoxicating sounds, and there are many mysterious, dream-like terrains that this music invites to. It may also correspond also with the ascetic spirit of Bresson’s film, and with the filmmaker’s deep sense of improvisation. Improvisation, concludes Joshua Minsoo Kim, is merely a conduit for tapping into a continual expansion of self. The Devil, Probably does so magnificently.

Eyal Hareuveni 

Patrick Shiroishi (saxophones), Àlex Reviriego (double bass), Vasco Trilla (percussion)