Boomkat Product Review:
Debut slab of head-retuning brilliance by Chilean drummer and composer Vicente Atria, knitting myriad microtonal modes - Andean, Indonesian, New Orleans - with a jazz verve and license that constantly beggars belief. No wonder it won the German Jazz Prize for Best International Debut Album
One of a new, far flung guard heading for the frontiers of tuning, the omnivorous Atria practically invents his own musical language and pronounces it with incredible fluency on first LP ‘Orlando Furioso’. Recalling the surreal fantasies imagined by Piotr Kurek as much as the beguiling, Harry Partch systems-based homage of Deathprod, but with a searching, ‘70s modal jazz-fusion flair and freedom, and X amount of inspiration from traditions of his native Chile and far beyond, it’s a lot, trust us. Any sense of predictability is out of the window and we’re left to marvel at his juxtapositions and placement of all the “wrong” notes in the right places, with a singular vision enabled by a crack squad of players (David Acevedo, David Leon, Andrew Boudreau, Alec Goldfarb, Daniel Hass, Simón Willson, and Niña Tormenta) who also speak the same musical language.
As evident to anyone with a keen ear on contemporary music, while most angles have been exhausted by countless visionaries over centuries, the frontiers of tuning remain up for grabs. ‘Orlando Furioso’ operates deep in this no man’s land with a patented, bizarre sense of novelty that is enormously refreshing to ears tired of the same auld Emperor’s new clothes. The 10 pieces methodically, yet seemingly effortlessly, hew to a system of microtonal harmony, rhythmic vigour and sheer otherworldliness with each careful but beautifully flowing pluck and strike, variously pared down to pointillist minimalism or harmonised in head turning juxtapositions.
In the openign ‘En Tornasol’ strings, horns and vox keen and slide against each other, slipping off the page into rarely explored margins where the rest for the album follows to write its own notes on musical history. Their 10 minute ‘Anticueca N. 6’ slowly, patiently, spaciously displaces anticipations with the quality of a Michael Pisaro piece imitated by Tashi Dorji, and we’re sloshed out into alien delays of New Orleans sousa, jazz and Andean folk with the 6-parts to ‘Raso, Sarga, Tafetán’, shoring up like drunken sailors to the wickedly alien sleaze of ‘Galliard’ and writhing skronk of ‘Bootstrap Bernie’ wondering what the flip just went on and getting another bottle to steady the nerves.