While two Canadians and two South Americans meeting in a Barcelona bar has all the elements of a shaggy dog story, that’s what happened with Glow; although instead of a punchline what we get here is a session of superior improvised music. Canadians, alto saxophonist François Carrier and drummer Michel Lambert, along with Colombian guitarist Diego Caicedo and Argentinean Pablo Schvarzman, who employs guitar and electronics, both now Spanish residents, operate as one unit during the CD’s five tracks.
Emphasizing voltage extensions throughout, not only do the guitarists project expected twangs, frails and strums, but Schvarzman’s electronics also produce an undulating drone as well as throbbing vibrations which frequently mirror double bass sluices. Lambert’s irregular drum patterning is used for coloration not rhythmic pulse, which leaves performances twisted every which way by Carrier and Caicedo.
Hammering or picking his strings, the guitarist moves from reflective accompaniment to brittle adagio shakes. The saxophonist doesn’t play standard licks but overlays each track with a variety of effects from screaming fragmented bites to harsh breathy honks and slurs. Unique tropes evolve throughout to establish collective equilibrium. This is aptly demonstrated when the set climaxes with Heart Core, the penultimate track. Repeated string ratcheting strokes coupled with reed motifs soaring from dyspeptic scoops to bagpipe-like drones to staccato tongue flutters, reach such a point of pressurized intensity that they seem unstoppable, but quickly and easily downturn to relaxed timbres later on.
Glow is no joke just fine exploratory music.