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Jazz: Random Touch, Reptet

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RANDOM TOUCH: A Box and a Word (CD on Token Boy Records)

This release from 2008 offers 57 minutes of abstract jazz.

Random Touch is: Christopher Brown (on drums, vocals and electronics), James Day (on keyboards), and Scott Hamill (on guitar and electronics).

Garbled melodies grow out of meandering harmonics, as chaos coalesces into glittering tunes. A good percentage of the instrumentation is artificial, with horns, strings, and an assortment of traditional instruments owing their presence to synthesized origins.

Conventional electronics are present, gluing together the rest of the turgid miasma. The synths often contribute air textures that are then warped and contorted by auxiliary noises until their pacific tones are lost in the bedlam.

Drums provide locomotion, frequently of the erratic and unpredictable variety. Rhythms tend to wander with surprising results.

Coherent guitar is generally employed as a sort of background element, while its forefront presence tends to be abstract, comprising painfully forced sustains and frantic scrapings that can be jarring.

These compositions make ample use of chaos to achieve a wobbly flow, crafting tunes that are mired in eccentric structures. Harmonic intent seems more important than any fluid sense of recurrent melody. Even so, the dynamics exhibited can be entrancing.

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RANDOM TOUCH : Duologue (CD on Token Boy Records)

This release from 2008 offers 40 minutes of controlled chaos.

This time, Random Touch is: Christopher Brown (on drums and vocals) and Scott Hamill (on guitar).

Shorn of any electronic presence, this music becomes a sparse example of abstract jazz, aimless at times and dedicated to a brewing tension. The songs often adopt a gritty persona with growling guitar noodling and frantic percussive outbursts.

The guitar relies on double tracking to establish a vibratory sound possessing a loving afterglow. Feedback and guttural sustains are manifold.

The percussion acts like a support instrument instead of any driving force in the tunes, with mounting tempos of steady definition swelling and receding. Muffled cymbals add an edgy flavor to the chugging rhythms.

Vocals are present in one piece.

These compositions languish in a state of perpetual hesitancy, toying with combinations just on the brink of an actual melody.

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REPTET: Chicken or Beef? (CD on Monktail Records)

This CD from 2008 features 60 minutes of jubilant jazz.

Reptet is: John Ewing (on drums, percussion bull moose call, and vocals), Samantha Boshnack (on trumpet, flugelhorn, slide trumpet, and vocals), Chris Credit (on saxophones and vocals), Tim Carey (on upright and electric bass, baritone guitar, and vocals), Nelson Bell (on trombone, tuba, euphonium, conch shell, and vocals), and Izaak Mills (on saxophone, clarinet, flute, percussion, bull moose call, and vocals) with guests: Lalo Bello (on percussion), Mark Oi (on guitar), Tobi Stone (on clarinet), Clinton Fearon (on frog and vocals), Eyvind Kang (on viola), Lori Goldston (on cello), Paris Hurley (on violin), Maeg O’Donoghue-Williams, Sari Breznau, Kevin Hinshaw, and Scott Adams (all on additional vocals).

Blaring horns and nimble percussion form the outspoken nucleus of this lively music. Many other instruments contribute to the gestalt, though, producing a full palate of sound.

Among the numerous brass and woodwinds, it is the saxophone that holds bouncy sway with strident chords and emphatically piercing notes. Although not entirely devoid of studious melancholy, the horns generally convey a joyous sentiment. Their blaring definition is rich with a sensuous command that becomes quite pronounced at times. The utterances of trumpet, flugelhorn, and clarinet combine tastefully to augment the sax.

The percussion is agile and crisp. While maintaining steadfast propulsion, the rhythms often divert into complex tempos that fit superbly with the rumbling basslines.

Strings provide a subtle undercurrent of classical temperament that is frequently audible peeking through the intentional cracks in the mix. Plucked upright bass establishes instances of cerebral sobriety that ground the otherwise soaring sense of sonic delight.

These compositions display an exultant quality that can be remarkably infectious. Combining elements of swing and cafe jazz, the tuneage is rollicking and rewarding.

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