Café Grand Abyss by Jon Rose & Alvin Curran

Jon Rose & Alvin Curran | Café Grand Abyss
Rer Megacorp (CD/DL)

Musicians operating in the realm of instant synthesis (this usually translates as “finest improvisers”) are defined by the ability to exploit the elusive qualities of information overload. What appears as a chaotic, and ultimately insufferable cacophony to idle ears and brains transmits instead a refreshing sensation of “cosmic clarity” (ha!) to people capable of sight-reading the profound score of legitimate diversity. When artists turn a plurality of discordant trajectories into a rational explanation, the unprejudiced witness instinctively knows that something special is happening.

Jon Rose and Alvin Curran have so much experience in the sonic field that even hinting at a fragment of their curricula sounds ridiculous. We’re discussing performers who, among innumerable projects, have extracted consequential music from marine foghorns (Curran’s Maritime Rites) and barbed wire fences (Rose and Hollis Taylor’s Great Fences Of Australia). Meaning that these gentlemen belong to the scarcely populated category of humans who were born in sound. For them, there’s no difference between a piano sonata, a ritual chant, an exchange of complex phrases on any given instrument, a troubled TV preacher, an industrial clangor. Regular folks making noise through their sheer nonsensical presence can sometimes be accepted as a part of the wholeness, if one’s tolerant enough.

For the circumstance, the duo focused on improvisational structures for piano, sampler, shofar, violin, amplified tenor violin, 6-string drainpipe (!) and singing saw (!!). In the press blurb, Curran describes Café Grand Abyss as an “imaginary place” after enlightening us about the recurrence of “cocktail pianist” elements in otherwise non-figurative ways of approaching the improvisation. If imagination sounded so vivid for every being on the planet, most problems deriving from faulty minds would be solved once and for all.

Each event is meaningful: as time unfolds, infinitesimal occurrences specify a transition towards the truest conception of harmony. The latter is an abused term in the mouths of the ignorant, and this writer is getting increasingly reluctant in using it. However, having scrutinized a track named “The Marcue Problem” the lingering feeling is that of standing extremely close to the polyphonic quintessence of everything we hear, feel and live while realizing – yet again – that nothing can be pinned down by a pitiful description. 

In this record, “intricacy” rhymes with “poetry”. Virtuosity is a waterwheel refracting the sun rays of a superior counterpoint typified by an impressive speed of response. Nonetheless, the interplay is entirely deprived of egoistic issues and purposes, positively influencing the listener’s mood. This melange of reminiscence, quick detours, lyrical openings, animal agitation, crumbled meanings and ironic covers – check “Tequila For Two” – attests an acoustic (and mental) pliability that can only be yielded by a lifetime spent investigating resonant molecules, whatever the source. The necessity of so-called communication that has brought countless weak souls to relinquish silent listening to privilege analphabetic intellectualism and enforced social gathering is all but forgotten.

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