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Trummerflora - "Rubble 2"

Trummerflora equals brilliant. The 15 strong experimental/improvisational ensemble has elicited such praise from Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians leader and trombonist George Lewis in Wire as, "It's nothing like I have ever seen… which I think eventually will be known around the world." Most will scoff at these claims. In a world where new and exciting only translates into widespread success if you have an army at your back, the San Diego collective is blazing a trail already trodden in different vehicles by neighbours the Plot and more stylistically contemporary kin William Parker and Hamid Drake, which adds a lot of weight to Lewis's dubious claim. Following in the now indelible footsteps of the likes of Sun Ra and Pauline Oliveros, the Trummerflora explore the musical landscape at their fingertips by listening to the silence and making sweet love to it with their instrumentation. Adding another level is turntablism. Joe Calzo scratches halfway through "Track 1," while Marcos Fernandes takes field recordings to a synthetically futuristic level on "Field Day." As we've seen through the explosion of our own Canadian collectives via the internet, it's possible for marginalised movements to make their presence felt internationally. However, while Malkmus never endorsed BSS on Pitchfork, Trummerflora's been blessed with relative equivalence. That dichotomy fairs well for their development.

     - Aaron Levy, Exclaim! Canada

The name Trummerflora, referring to plant life that thrives in bombed-out urban areas, gives a fair indication of this Southern Californian collective's aesthetic, walking the line between order and chaos, composition and improvisation, and organic and electronic sound sources. "Strutting" may be a more appropriate description, although its a strut interrupted by frequent drunken stumbles, along lines that are seldom straight. Rubble 2 is the second in a series of compilations gathering works and performances by various members of the collective and packs in a bewildering range of sounds and ideas over its 60-plus minutes.

The album is bookended with work by Nathan Hubbard and his Skeleton Key Orchestra. "Track 1 (For RC)" pits a pair of repeated, stacato guitar riffs (hence the Rhys Chatham dedication) marking rigid time against a barrage of dissonant horns, while the closing "Track 2 (for AB)"— "AB" being Anthony Braxton—proceeds with more chaotic horn lines and a Eric Dolphy-esque flute solo anchored by a portentous guitar/bass/drum cycle that recalls Chicago post-rock. Hubbard, Erik Griswold, and Scott Walton make up a disjointed prepared-piano/bass/drums combo for "Susan's Stretto," which sounds more like a Schoenberg composition than anything improvised. "Bala 1," by contrast, is all haphazard tin-can rattlings courtesy of percussionist Curtis Glatter, while Damon Holzborn's electronic piece "E. Digest" marries similar kitchen-sink tinkerings with equally plinky piano and guitar samples.

Elsewhere, electronic timbres are more obviously employed. Sextet Obscuricon's "Vitriol" spits guitar, bass, and tenor sax through various effects before adding turntable scratches, crawling white noise, and sporadic squeaks and squeals to its messy core. Sound artist Robert M combines percussive burbling, feedback squall and motorik drums into something like Neu driving through a swamp on "A Remixed Offering of Interconnectedness." The sinuous drones of Gunther's Grass' "Vulcanian," performed by Marcelo Radulovich on Hurdy Gurdy and Christopher Adler on Thai mouth organ khaen, ebbs and flows like fluctuations in electric power circuits despite being entirely acoustic. The wealth of sounds on offer on Rubble 2 —and the palpable joy in their execution—makes for a highly rewarding, and welcomely unpretentious, collection.

     - Joshua Meggitt, Grooves Magazine

It's not often one has the opportunity to hear good music from the fringes, and indeed, this appears to be where it's at. This isn't actually electronica, as the majority of the works are conceptually based and the musicians tend to use orchestral instruments as opposed to studio equipment. With this in mind, as well as the fact that much of their work has been used in cinemas and galleries, one does notice that the quality found in "Rubble 2" is both awe inspiring and atmospheric, yet with a certain spontaneity one would normally find in a performance/installation, or even jazz for that matter. The opening track aptly titled 'Track 1 (for RC)' begins like an extract from a Miles DAvis "Witches (sic) Brew"-era workout which has then descended into cacophony of free jazz expression that both works with a central loop whilst attempting to extend beyond it. Other tracks such as 'Parlance' and 'Kalkengel' pull one deep into the belly of 1960s Paris, full of beatniks or conversely, the centre of St Louis - a mixture of smoky melody and radiant dissonance. Other tracks on the collection recall elements of the moniker, namely the mixture of rubble with flora, a phenomenon that is unique to heavily bombed areas in which sees that may be hundreds of years old find fruition within the bulldozed turf. This growth from unrest is palpable in the entirety of the collection, most audible in 'Vitriol' whose tones are obscured by the distorted whining of a trumpet and wild sax that appears to have been electronically augmented. If this is what is happening on the fringes, I think we've all been missing out.

     - One Week To Live

The name of this experimental music collective refers to a variety of flora that only appears in war ravaged areas. When parts of buildings and earth are fused in rubble structures during war violence, seeds and such that have been dormant in the earth suddenly find themselves in a situation to live, growing from gardens of broken buildings. The music herein is fairly eclectic within its parameters, including more accessible tracks such as "Parlance" by Lisle Ellis and Marcos Fernandes, "Excerpts from Suite of Dreams" by Ellen Weller and Bob Weller and "Kalkengel" by Permanent Flow, all avant garde jazz numbers; "Track 1 (For RC)" by the Nathan Hubbard Skeleton Key Orchestra, a strange number that hits like some kind of dischordant dadaist jazz gone random; the percussive textures of Curtis Glatter's "Bala"; the dark ambience of Damon Holzborn's "E. Digest"; the twangy weirdness of "Field Day" by Trio Maghreb; the haunted meets jazz musings of "Susan's Stretto" by Erik Griswold, Scott Walton and Nathan Hubbard; the atmospheric oddity "Vitriol" by Obscuricon; the hyper noise of "A Remixed Offering of Interconnectedness" by robert m; and another Nathan Hubbard selection, "Track 2 (for AB)". Die-hard experimentalists will likely embrace most of these offerings. Others will like some and be turned off by others. But all told, this is a fine release and worth seeking out for adventurous listeners.

     - Kristofer Upjohn, Raves.com


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