Michał Dymny (electric guitar)
Vasco Trilla (drums)
Paulina Owczarek (baritone saxophone) – tracks 6 & 8
FMR Records FMRCD399
“Cave Canem” (Latin for beware of the dog) is a meeting of minds from Kraków and Barcelona – no prizes for guessing who might hail from where – and this selection of mostly duo improvisations is full of beauty and muscle.
As the title suggests, Morbidezza kicks things off delicately, though hardly tentatively, with cymbal scrapes and patters of percussion. Beginning with just the odd note here and there, Dymny gradually adds fragments of non-idiomatic guitar. There’s a lot of space here. It’s meditative, worshipful even (though at what skewed altar, let’s not guess) and suddenly, it’s over and we’re into the dense, clustered, micro sounds of Flechettes. In no time at all, the guitar sound is all electronic glitches and Trilla’s busier percussion gives way to his trademark precise abstraction before it fades into a microtonal sunset.
Xoloescuincle (the first dog-related title) is another short sketch, replete with shimmers, creaks, groans and occasional, positively space-age flourishes. The impression is of the two musicians testing and twisting their respective instruments, coaxing and cajoling fresh sounds to experiment with; then a series of swelling chords rests against a light-footed dance across Trilla’s metalwork. The next track (Scotoma) features an earthy, distorted blues guitar tone but Dymny’s note choices are anything but as Trilla pounds deep into the kit. The sound closes in, the tension increases, and there’s no let up. Lovely.
Memory Hole is a showcase for Trilla with few guitar sounds that I could detect and gradually the various elements of Trilla’s considerable arsenal are deployed, layering the sound continuously without losing cohesion or drive and creating along the way a hint of narrative.
The title track is definitely a highlight and the addition of Paulina Owczarek’s baritone brings an extra flavour to this 16-minute ‘suite’. There’s a sense of journey here, through some stygian underworld, a kind of 3-way epic improvised poem: the story of a quest through some dry, bone-strewn landscape surrounded by menace. The claustrophobia increases before plunging us into an alluring and alien interlude, the whole thing finally transmogrifying into a kind of quiet yet triumphant emergence.
After that, Bigu is like a cool damp cloth, laid across the forehead, complete with chiming bells and gentle gong-like tones. Hskaner features Owczarek one more time in a sudden boost of tempo and mood. The first half is practically prog and if you find your foot tapping that’s because you can. Then, although it continues in the same vein, the volume is gradually shaved away, depositing us lightly into the closer, DNAR, which is a final dose of abstraction: spacey, echoey, and subterranean.
Beware of the dog, it doesn’t bite but neither is it at all predictable…