Various Artists: TimeTable Percussion
Works by: Hiroya Miura, Alexandre Lunsqui, Keeril Makan, and Sebastian Armoza.
TimeTable Percussion, a trio consisting of Matthew Gold, Matt Ward, and Alex Lipowski (who replaced Joseph Tompkins midway through the recording of this album), is known for close-knit collaborations with composers. Their inaugural self-titled release on the Carrier Records imprint features works written for them between 2001 and 2008 by Hiroya Miura, Alexandre Lunsqui, Keeril Makan, and Sebastian Armoza. Despite the complexity and scurrying motion of some of the music on this CD, there is a satisfying, contemplative feel throughout. Even the most rambunctious moments are allowed to breathe and then diffuse, an approach that prevents anything from becoming too forceful or overbearing. TimeTable’s performances are undoubtedly responsible for this expansive quality, and they reveal keen insights into the different strata and continuums explored by the composers.
Hiroya Miura’s mixed percussion piece Puncture Me starts the disc. Whimsical meanderings, babbling interjections, and weighted silences provide for a highly entertaining listen. The intertwining layers of pitched and non-pitched percussion create a sense of no-time flowing at unpredictable rates. TT’s sensitivity to dynamics and their overall sense of restraint prove that they have fully ingested the essence of the piece; lesser groups might have covered Miura’s canvas with too much paint. With Puncture Me, Miura masterfully utilizes a large gamut of percussion timbres, and TT allows them to settle into their proper balance and proportions.
Alexandre Lunsqui’s Shi is a melange of wooden and metal non-pitched percussion, full of playful energy and natural wonder. With ratchets, guiros, rattles, woodblocks, and more, Lunsqui drops the listener in the middle of a rain forest for a little more than seven minutes. This piece is witty and deeply inspired, with TT artfully conjuring Lunsqui’s timeless and exotic landscapes (imagine choruses of chirping tree frogs, sharpening knives, etc.). Very imaginative and technically quite impressive, Lunsqui’s Shi begs for multiple listens.
Hiroya Miura’s Otik Trio might contain the most kinetic energy of all of the pieces on the disc. Featuring pitched percussion, the rhythms, textures, and forward motion of the Otik Trio contrast greatly with Miura’s first contribution (if Puncture Me showcases Miura’s introspective side, then Otik Trio occurs behind thinner veils). Dizzying arpeggios, pulsations, and flipping beats are nested between moments of repose, avoiding any sense of predictability. TimeTable’s athleticism was truly tested by this piece, and they proved to be up for the marathon. Aside from the impressive display of dexterity, TT fully expose the subtle dynamic gradations, saving full-throttle for when it proves to be most effective.
Keeril Makan’s Gather, for non-pitched percussion (pieces of a drum kit and cymbals spread amongst the ensemble), is the most stark, direct piece on the disc. First impressions evoked a humorous scene of a drummer in a rock club testing mics at soundcheck (Soundman:”OK, now floor tom”. THUMP. Soundman: “OK, now rack tom”. THUMP THUMP. Soundman:”OK, play around the whole kit”); repeated listens reveal precision, drama, and a masterfully employed subtlety by Makan and TT alike. It is fascinating to hear TT build Makan’s swinging, tribal grooves in real time, then deconstruct them without ever pummeling the listener. And Makan’s piece is a smart choice for the CD as a whole because its earthiness contrasts some of the headier material on the disc.
POR, by Sebastian Armoza, closes out this fine disc. Starting in a hazy dream state, the textures slowly become more tactile and persistent, but never harsh or overwrought. Armoza impressively uses mixed percussion to blend unique color combinations, all the while exploring surreal meta-states. The labyrinths eventually unfold into a persistent, emphatic pulse, eventually dissipating into the ether from which it came. Possibly the most texturally varied piece on the disc, TimeTable successfully navigates the fascinating journey of Armoza’s worlds-within-worlds.
Despite the laundry list of affirmatives, this CD took a few listens before it settled: much of this is naturally due to the five contrasting, multivalent compositions. But as with many things worthwhile, repeated visits revealed new riches. Every composer on this CD had different problems to solve, and TT more than fulfilled their role as translators of ideas and contractors of musical blueprints. The production and recording techniques on this CD tastefully facilitate multiple soundworlds, and the sequencing of tracks creates a satisfying trajectory. And in the process, TT shows just how comfortable they are playing a wide variety of percussion instruments. After this CD gets around, Timetable’s stock as collaborating partners should increase drastically. Highly recommended.
Jeremy Podgursky is a composer/songwriter/performer based in Louisville, KY. For more info about Jeremy and his music, visit his website.