Jaimie Branch - trumpet
Tim Daisy - percussion
Fred Lonberg-Holm - cello
Nate McBride - bass
Jeff Parker - guitar
Ken Vandermark - reeds
This is a first soundtrack in vast discography of Ken Vandermark and it's something special.
Enough to look at the names to see that Ken chose a stellar group, all players that he knows profoundly having a lot of experience playing together previously (one exception to that rule is Jaimie Branch - I don't know about any other Ken's project including him).
This is a collection of compositions that support the video, but the music tells the story as well as the picture itself. These are mostly slow-tempo pieces, very melodic, somehow pensive. The film tells the story of people and places that are pure and simple. And while there are no easy cliche' etno clues in there (although the wonderful sound of marimba in "Sieve of the Soul" and percussion beats by Tim Daisy throughout have this 'world' music charm) the feeling of naturality pervades throughout the album, music is somehow relaxed, never forced, without any sense of urgence, going slowly with the stream of river, even during the more dramatic, more abstract, darker passages.
All musicians are given a lot of space to shine. "Blue Over Green" with light funk etno-groove features extended guitar solo by Parker in two versions - gently and jazzy one in the first half, rocking in the latter. My favourite moment could be when Jaimie Branch enters with light trumpet solo after the introducing theme of "Austral Cartography". In fact Ken hardly takes any solo space until the explosive (in a Powerhouse way) end of "Dust Town" which is only the fourth track of the album (out of total seven). Yet it's absolutely clear it's his album, the way he leads the band, the ways the heads are composed (wonderfully arranged themes, the brass octave unisono in the middle of "Sieve of the Soul" is something of otherwordly beauty, the doubled cello and bass lines are something already known from recent Vandermark 5 albums).
Since it's possible to watch the movie on-line and thus listen to most of the music from this album I can only recommend that you get to know these sounds and pictures personally. An experience which I hope will be
as gratifying as it was in my case.
two tracks from the album are available in the radio playlist played on 02.20.2012
watch the movie here