Vole – The Hillside Mechanisms
(Babel BDV12102. CD review by Chris Parker)
‘An opportunity to make music with improvisers that is a bit different and a bit difficult’ is trumpeter Roland Ramanan’s description of his experience forming Vole with guitarist Roberto Sassis and drummer Javier Carmona.
‘Jagged, howling group extemporisation, with blustery trumpet, taut guitar shredding and tumbling percussion’ is what’s promised in the accompanying press release, and the album’s opener, ‘No Knees’, and subsequent tracks such as ‘Tim’s Frosties’, deliver just this toothsome package, interspersing full-on rock set to industrial-strength beats with passages of free improvisation.
Quieter moments are described as ‘environmental audio postcards from a mist-clad mossy hillside or a steamy jungle valley’, and Anthony Braxton’s recent music is also referenced; certainly, admirers of the great Chicagoan’s new-millennium music will also find much to enjoy here, whether Vole are in no-prisoners scrabbling mode or in more meditative mood, and for textural variety, rip-it-up energy and fierce interactiveness, the trio is hard to beat.
Apparently Vole are now a quartet, with the addition of pianist Alexander Hawkins (and Tom Greenhalgh replacing Carmona on drums), but on the evidence of this rousing, no-holds-barred album, their live act should be something special whatever the personnel.