Salute To The Rabid Raspberry cs836









I haven't heard very much from English "prepared strings" (& homemade instruments in general...) performer Adam Bohman, but enough to be intrigued, including by his second album as part of The Chemical Expansion League, Salute To The Rabid Raspberry: I reviewed this quartet's first album, Grappling with the Orange Porpoise (also from Creative Sources, recorded in 2018), back in July 2020, and then Bohman's prior collaboration with Adrian Northover (in The Bellowing Earwigs), The Perpendicular Giraffe Compartment (recorded in 2015, but not released — by FMR — until '20...), the following month. (Bohman had also released a duo album with vocalist Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg, who appears on the latter quartet album, in 2016 on Confront, Bagpipes And Blackberries.) And then Salute To The Rabid Raspberry features vocalizing, basically Bohman's very British diction in what comes off as a sort of lo-fi or disinterested presentation, sometimes leaving the musical activity to itself, but sometimes rather active, e.g. seemingly reading off lists.... The vibe is thus transformed from the instrumental-only quartet, although the music per se remains similar to that on Grappling with the Orange Porpoise — an album that doesn't exude much foreground (but then the recitations can also seem to eschew foreground...). So the most direct comparison for me is 13 Asperities (released in 2020, but belatedly reviewed here in January 2023...) from Trokaan Project, involving a somewhat larger ensemble (including piano) around recitation of poetry: Mood of the voice can seem similar (while the extended instrumental techniques recall each other...), but also differs substantially in the offering of poetry per se, much more clearly presented sonically, and in foreground diction rather than embedded lower in texture. There's a sort of flatness to the vocal expression around roiling & colorful music in either case.... (The recitations from Bohman can also recall the "impersonal" "stage directions" of e.g. Anthony Braxton's Syntactical Ghost Trance Music....) And I do also wonder (pace e.g. the review of Mars Reveri here from April...) whether Salute To The Rabid Raspberry was "assembled" more recently from materials recorded earlier: There's a clear date of January 2024 given for the mixing, but it's unclear if that applies to the recording itself, which may be from a similar time period (i.e. 2018) as the quartet's previous release. If that's the case, the vocals were added later (& even overlap themselves by the end...). Indeed, I didn't notice until now, but Northover & Bohman released Föhn (with Marcello Magliocchi) in 2021 (similarly vague about recording date versus mixing), and suggestive vocals had already appeared (more tentatively...) there. Northover was also on the "wasp" synth (in addition to sax — & theremin!), as he is for Salute To The Rabid Raspberry. (So although Bohman's "prepared strings" can suggest an electronic vibe, the electronics here are actually from Northover.) And then the quartet is rounded out by Sue Lynch (on sax, clarinet & flute) & Ulf Mengersen (on bowed & prepared double bass), yielding a sort of background scuffling vibe, bent tones, squeaks & pops & flutters, senses of falling, metallic-industrial echoes.... (And Lynch was reviewed here most recently, all during 2021 as it happens & all alongside electronics..., with the Crunch trio, with the Five Shards quintet, also with Northover, and then "tangentially" with NO Moore on Secant, Tangent.... Meanwhile, Mengersen appeared here also most recently in January 2023, with the Offshore Adventures quintet, i.e. bowed strings around Matthias Müller, while performing as well on Xafnikes synantiseis with Ernesto Rodrigues around Floros Floridis, recently noted in another April review....) (Northover most recently appeared with The House On The Hill, from a trio also with Magliocchi, reviewed here in November.... And apparently the two have a new duo album, to appear this month on Empty Birdcage, Time Textures.) There's obviously a sort of whimsy animating many of these titles then, projecting as well a kind of calm through dissonance — ramified now (over a very long album...) by Bohman's dispassionate vocal readings. At some level then, I'm not sure if the resulting figurations are of sanity or of insanity.... Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts