Sonic Reducer: The Awakening Orchestra

Geoffrey Plant
3 min read
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Multi-instrumentalist, composer and conductor Kyle Saulnier’s Awakening Orchestra is a magnificent collection of traditional jazz instrumentalists and fusion jazz players performing arrangements with a classical music sensibility in what’s called the “Third Stream” genre of jazz. Atticus Live! The music of Jesse Lewis is the second Awakening Orchestra release and features the compositions of guitarist Jesse Lewis, who ably leads Saulnier’s Orchestra with a style landing somewhere between Gabór Szabó and Robert Fripp. The concise opening tracks, “Looking Glass” and “Build!”, set the mood for this album, embracing the listener in an otherworldly, electro-nylon string ambiance much like the warm music of Brian Eno, gently giving way to the Sonny Sharrock-inspired third tune, “The Adventures of Dirt McGillicuddy.” Here Saulnier’s orchestra hits its nuts-and-bolts stride, trucking along without mechanical mishap for the rest of this brilliant album. Great stuff.

Rudy Royston Trio Rise of Orion (Greenleaf)

As I pulled into a parking spot last week, KUNM was playing a song from The Lounge Lizards’ first album. I was struck by how legitimate that now-epochal band of No-Wave and weirdo post-postmodern jazz musicians sounded. My late ’80s explorations of the Lounge Lizards’ first album were thorough. I owned the EG release on album and cassette—this was quintessential driving music warranting a dedicated cassette copy in the motorist’s medium of the day. It sometimes left me with a suspicion that these guys were imitating something, posing in a previous era’s guise and style. Wynton Marsalis’ work in the ’80s left me with the same feeling. With time’s tonic, both aforementioned artists sound genuine to my jaded ears. In this light, Rudy Royston’s Coltrane-and-Coleman-influenced arrangements on Rise of Orion aren’t just imitation crab but the genuine, prehistoric creature that is modern jazz.

Summon Anumals (Self-Released, Bandcamp)

Straight outta Dirt City comes this meticulously mixed and handily produced album steeped in themes of magik and tinged by the madness that looms over any man’s attempt to understand Kabbalah and the teachings of The Golden Dawn. These are ideas and forces that Israel Summon—AKA Summon the Scapegoat, AKA Summon—obviously has a vested interest in. Summon’s stream of consciousness raps inhabit a plush zone crafted between riveting samples from sources like ’50’s jazz vocal tunes, old cult films, Aleister Crowley recordings, ambient noises like rain and his generally loping, slow tempo beats that occasionally call to mind Dr. Octogon. Anumals will bear repeated listening for fans of mid-period Psychic TV, devotees of the aforementioned Dr. Octogon—as well as your more adventurous hip Wiccan. This is Summon’s seventh release in this vein and the most intricately enjoyable one yet.

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