Traversing the continuum between experimentalism and melodicism, this duo release manages to tie together its many moods through its meditative attention to sonic detail.  Kyle Motl and Adam Tinkle, raised at the southern and northern edges of the eastern seaboard respectively, were both lured west for graduate studies by the the renowned program in avant-jazz and improvised music at the University of California, San Diego. There, they found that their abundant common ground extended far beyond a penchant for sound exploration and free playing–both work with electronics, count rock and noise as major influences and compose chamber music. On these tracks, they fold these myriad reference points into a set of improvisations which are as ear-bending as they are tuneful.

Beginning in wavy, surfriding sync, the lead track spins out an open-ended journey of melody and counterpoint like a game of musical leapfrog. Circumnavigating the known harmonic universe before the four minute mark, the album steadily slouches towards entropy: Tinkle’s airy and dark alto saxophone drips with romantic vibrato one moment but shortly tears into searing multiphonics, while Motl’s contrabass keeps a continuo that often bubbles over to a string-snapping, bow-grinding boil. Much of what follows of the album’s first half unfolds like an essay in the states of matter as states of mind, passing from a drony, icy stasis into a microtonally modulating muck, and then evaporating from rushing rivers of melody into the gaseous sounds of wind and bow hair.

On the sixth track, Motl and Tinkle are joined at the piano by Anthony Davis, who happens to be one of the teachers that drew both players to San Diego in the first place. Widely agreed to be at the forefront of the improvising pianists that emerged in the 1970s, Davis still finds time to tour with groups like Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet, even as he has focused primarily on composing opera for the past three decades. Yet though he was all over the great releases of the loft jazz era (collaborating with the likes of James Newton, George Lewis, David Murray and Anthony Braxton), Davis has hardly been documented in small-group, all-improvised situations like this one in years. Enveloping both the dissonant intensity of energy jazz and coloristic, off-the-cuff balladry, it sounds like Motl and Tinkle’s usually-measured duo interplay has been pushed into frenetic fast-forward by the chimeric force of Davis’ playing–a master class in instant composition from one of its originators.

–The Risky Forager

Kyle Motl: contrabass
Adam Tinkle: alto saxophone
Anthony Davis: piano (track 6)

Recorded on March 17 and May 8, 2014 at the UC San Diego ICAM Studio.
Recorded and mixed by Adam Tinkle and Kyle Motl.
Mastered by Matt Baltrucki.

All music by Adam Tinkle and Kyle Motl (Motl Music, BMI), except track 6, by Adam Tinkle, Kyle Motl, and Anthony Davis (Epistemy Music, ASCAP)

Album Artwork by Adam Tinkle