Too many cooks don’t always spoil it, or turn into supergroup muck. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma (Root Strata, Tarentel), Evan Caminiti & Jon Porras from Barn Owl, Lisa McGee (Higuma), Gregg Kowalsky (Date Palms), Marielle Jakobsons (Date Palms), Maxwell Croy (Root Strata/EN), Steven Dye & Tony Cross (Tarentel alum) and Michel Elrod all collapse into each other and themselves for Portraits.
Finding a common target, let alone thrust, must be hard enough, but Portraits overcome and deliver on their promise, and yield an expansive, lush and introspective drone behemoth. D, the lengthier of 3 cuts, basically crawls into the frame, insistently simple and enveloping. For so many hands in the works, it’s to Portraits’ credit it doesn’t get overcooked and overstuffed. A study in economy if anything, D avoids turning into a dull hum by finding dynamics in between the spaces. Each tiny shift yields maximum and patient results. Gong begins pulsing out just as patiently; deeper and darker, it adds sonorous contrast to D, both sonically and in emotional heft. Gong says almost as much about D, as it does itself, making Portraits even richer. Closer Sa, shortest of the cuts, actually packs the most ingredients, wafting in vocal chants with buzzier strings atmosphere and a gentle percussion fade out. A different animal than opener D overall, and Gong for that matter, Sa is almost an encapsulation of the two in some ways, compressed for sharper definition.
Portraits is deceptively rich and luxurious not only in how it plays out and passes effortlessly, but in how it paints a sincere picture of economy, and what it says by being able to do so.
Gong :: Portraits :: Portraits (2011, Important Records)
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The Sunrise Ocean Bender sets sail every Monday morning, 1 – 3 a.m. on WRIR lp 97.3 FM, to find something for your ears, and something for your head … From psych to prog to pop and whatever tributary we can find on the way … and right back around again. There might be a map, but the destination is up for grabs. If it all goes right, we may just get lost. Meet me at the muster station … it might be a long week.