Zomes: Improvisations
Thrill Jockey

Like some dust-covered artefact from a bygone era, Improvisations' three extended meditations play like home-recorded organ-harmonium improvs recorded in some Lower Manhattan loft during the late 60s. Close your eyes and you might find images of LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela forming in your mind, just as you might also expect to hear Pandit Pran Nath's voice enter at any moment to deepen even further the music's raga-drone vibe. That Improvisations was recorded to cassette tape doesn't surprise, given that it sounds as if someone stumbled upon decaying tapes stashed away for decades in some long-forgotten library of archival recordings.

Arriving as it does after Earth Grid, the LP-only Improvisations is the second Zomes release on Thrill Jockey by Lungfish member Asa Osborne. The album's thirty-four minutes of simple keyboard patterns induce a state of peaceful calm in the listener susceptible to the recording's lo-fi charms, and the three pieces (fifteen, ten, and eight minutes in length) cast the listener adrift upon a lulling sea of melodic ripples that blossom relaxedly against insistently droning pedal points. Fuzzy keyboard patterns blissfully advance and recede, swell in volume and then fade, with all of it grandly wheezing in slow-motion expansions and contractions. There's no question that the recording plays like some out-of-time survivor from decades long ago, but that doesn't mean it lacks appeal. If anything, the material's lo-fi quality renders Improvisations all the more endearing, an impression bolstered by its sounding so much like a rarity.

February 2012