Wildcard - Michaël Attias
"As if a magic lantern had thrown the nerves in patterns on a screen"... (Eliot)
Every performance here is evidence of a direct physiological connection between nerve thought tongue fingers air – of a heart big enough to appear heartless – of a mind-spirit-body cluster alive, fierce, generous – pure alto – but also tough merciless dialectical, one becoming two dividing and disassociating like a motherfucker, tongue-scalpel articulating bone muscle and ligament of line. True trance-music, to be actually effective (not decorative, not a postcard of a journey nobody has actually made) is achieved through such specificities...
I had two early childhoods before coming to America: one, episodic, among the Moroccan diaspora of my mother's family in the north of Israel; and the other in Paris, as exiled secret Jews, the May 68 revolution still in the air of the streets ten years later before the lid we live under came down.
These were among the first sounds to cradle me, voices in my grandmother's living room, Nahariya, mint tea, coffee and the early morning laughter of my six aunts. The pervasive languages were Judeo-Moroccan Arabic, Hebrew, French, and through the marriages of two of my aunts, Italian and American (Chicago) English. Haïm Botbol was born into a family of musicians in Fez. L'Orchestre Botbol was big in the cabarets of Casablanca and Marrakech that my father frequented in the 50's and is now a symbol of the once-possible intertwining of Arabic, Jewish, and Andalousian tradition. There's even some Gnawa thrown in there (hear the clapping in the end). A gone world. He was a rock star.
Rimbaud of the blues, he cultivated schizophrenia as a high form of polyphony, I becoming Other, the self poised and grooving at the border of its own disintegration: each musical strand, guitar string, attack, level of speech, is its own entity, a separate voice – other solo guitarist/singers have mastered the technical challenge of sounding like three or four people playing at once, but this is something else in the order of Being, he went much further, too far, to where the extreme individuation of each part makes it sound as if it were produced by a different person, psyche, body. It's symptomatic of these mysteries that people argue about the correct speed of the recordings, claiming his voice was higher or lower (mostly), wanting him to be One when he was so Many.
Robert Johnson, Casals playing Bach, Schnabel the Beethoven sonatas, Charlie Parker, Coltrane … explorers of the multiple voices inhabiting a voice, tearing down its walls, opening big holes of anti-matter (another name for the devil in Robert Johnson's songs?) in the middle of a phrase, of a thought, driving a stake through its heart, genius at the peril of madness. In our day of careerist self-promoting human networking machines no thicker than a profile, it's time to bring some of these old notions back, I call for a new Romanticism to explode the gridworld. Hear the gestures his voice makes, the ghosts in the guitar. Pure genius.
Here's Bird tearing other holes in the fabric, offering another idea of polyphony as a single line folding in on itself, splitting into two, three registers, then reconnecting at the speed of genius, sweet and brutal and lyrical beyond belief. Each motive generates architecture in time but also serves as a wedge to deconstruct the barline, topple it over the abyss. Hear that first bridge of the first chorus! Danger: is he stuck? Abyssal negation forthwith negated by the heartwrenching leap into the top of the last A, alto splayed across registers, crucified by a chord. You have to be willing to die right Now to play a solo like this. Anything else is the mediocrity of resignation, obedience, or just the jive of sham knowing … and at the end that amazing clusterfuck cadence of Miles and Bird finishing the chorus in amazing compression leaving a big hole of time before the insolence of another Country Garden tag.
“Girl you know there's nothing is real”. Gridworld warped by the tugging of two's and three's in opposite directions of time. Under every sound is a kernel of word and in a every word a rhythmic energy pullings its syllables apart, splitting atomic sense. This is the music of initiates to the same mysteries of rhythm which yield Bata, Gnawa music, Andrew Hill. A multidirectional multimorph of time, all feel, nothing at a metric right angle to the other. Exquisite layerings of THROB against PROD, JAB against JAM, tiny metal biting teeth of the accelerated hihat, dark bass of the Mouth Hole swallowing every sound in its path.
There's a torque in the machine, proliferating inflections in the meter, twist the neck of a robot long enough it might begin to speak a hybrid of human language, dream a human dream, yield sounds of motor, engine, pixel - but also gristle, rain, volcano, wind. Time and timbre in the hands of DJ Rashad were infinitely malleable. Such a deep and impeccable understanding of the properties and powers of his materials, mixes tested directly on the bodies of dancers in the fire of Footwork battles, himself once a soldier-dancer of Chicago visionary warfare trance music. In the last few albums, the emotional coloring deepened with a more insistent note of loss, guilt, desire dissolved in currents of electronic sound, human-ness shed of its burden of too heavy solid flesh. DJ Rashad died April 26 of this year, laid to rest. Let It Go.
A magnetic presence on the New York scene since the mid-nineties, saxophonist/composer/improvisor Michaël Attias was born in Israel, spent his childhood in Paris and his adolescence in the American Midwest. Exposing himself to a wide range of life and musical situations, he has crafted a supple, passionate and uncompromising language in which to render the diversity of his imagination and commitments.