(The title is Polish for attention, the first work is named "Attention!", the second "Pasop!" (Dutch for caution, warning, attention) and the album art features a quote — laid out in a multi-colored spiral you have to rotate to read — by Sun Ra that details the benefits of listening to music ("music paints pictures that only the mind can see"). Do you think the authors are trying to tell us something?)
There are two ways to get someone's attention: shout in an intense fashion or whisper so quietly that the target has to lean in for focus; but too much of either of these and you tune out. In the case of Uwaga, the trio of reed player André Goudbeek, percussionist and Quatour Helios member Lê Quan Ninh and bassist Peter Jacquemyn excel at both scenarios, working between wandering harmonics, loud, low frequency bombasts and minimal, gentle purrs in a forty-four-plus-twelve-minute arc.
The form lays out as if digging hands into a previously undisturbed beach: fingers go deep, sinking in repose, then slowly pull up clods of sand and shell and detritus into the air, pause to let each of the myriad specks drip off, and plunge further, repeat and unearth other bits. Quite often, Ninh and Jacquemyn work as a construction zone of sound for Goudbeek's alto birdsong to bounce upon; this is not, however, to say the two are wallpaper. Ninh employs his horizontal bass drum as amplification and resonance of cymbal scrapes, bent pitches, lugubrious growls via rubbing and physical object manipulation (he is often spotted using pine cones to exaggerate rattling membranes) while Jacquemyn revels in earth-shaking sub-bass, pockets of bow smacking and clusters of melodic moments that "harmonize" with Goudbeek.
Near fifteen minutes, after Jacquemyn's blistering "a bass can do that?" set, Goudbeek returns with bass clarinet in hand (or sax in imitation thereof) and jumps into the murky waves, everyone gaining speed as he climbs up the register. The trio locks in a groove here and a few other spots, exuding the energy of the best '60s hard bop; Ninh's contribution is more Cage than Elvin Jones (i.e. swirling a bolt or ball to produce a hyperactive continuous alarm bell) but still harnesses the intensity of the latter musician. The last ten minutes mirror this passage, though the play of Jacquemyn sawing through his contrabass and sudden vocal war cries, Ninh's nimble yet pounding metal on metal and the rapid-fire technical brilliance of Goudbeek is cacophony transcending to the true definition of "going apeshit".
(In a "How to Get Attention: Dos and Don'ts of Business" article, number one is "DO be brief, specific...keep the message short and simple". I have 56 minutes that say otherwise.)
Comments and Feedback: