Subtle Lip Can: Subtle Lip Can
Drip Audio

The self-titled debut outing from intrepid trio Subtle Lip Can features forty-three minutes of take-no-prisoners improvs courtesy of Montréal musicians Joshua Zubot (violin, low octave violin), Bernard Falaise (electric guitar), and Isaiah Ceccarelli (percussion, piano). After performing an inspired set as part of Mardi Spaghetti, a Montréal improvisational music series co-founded by Zubot and conducted at the venue Le Cagibi, the three immediately decided to continue their partnership and formally document their ferocious interplay on record. The resultant album, laid down live in Frédéric Boudreault's studio on Avenue Papineau, presents eight end-of-the-world improvs dominated by the piercing shriek and groan of violin scrapings, guitar shards, and metallic percussion. The three solo simultaneously and pay no heed to conventions of standard tempo or melody (Ceccarelli eschews kit playing altogether, opting instead to accompany the others using percussion only). In some instances (e.g., “Crumple, Power Down”), Falaise's screams and Ceccarelli's combustion function as as turbulent backup to Zubot's violent sawing, but elsewhere no one voice stands out more than another. As if to atone for the hellacious intensity of what has come before, the album's final track presents a more becalmed side of the trio. Truth be told, Subtle Lip Can sometimes resembles metal being flattened at a junkyard, or the kind of sound one imagines might be produced at a car wrecking site. Listeners expecting violin-and-guitar interplay of the kind associated with Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli or Jerry Goodman and John McLaughlin will find none of that in this case. Be that as it may, the collective heat Subtle Lip Can stokes on its first outing as a trio is at times brutalizing, often awesome, and always uncompromising.

February 2011