Listening Room

01 MonumentMOnuMENT
Maria Faust
Bush Flash Records BUFCD 2201 (mariafaust.com)

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MAN

YES

SKY

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As albums and live performances of creative music by solo instrumentalists become increasingly common, the novelty factor has almost completely disappeared. Instead the technical skills and original concepts of the players during these mostly improvisational sets become crystal clear, especially as the listener notes which strategies are used to create memorable sessions.

For instance, MOnuMENT (Bush Flash Records BUFCD 2201 mariafaust.com) by Estonian alto saxophonist Maria Faust, was recorded within various spaces of Kuressaare, a 14th century castle on the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Yet not only do the 14 tracks reflect the spatial qualities of the Gothic structure, but her use of affiliated electronic pedals also allows her to multiply, meld and mutate her output so that the aural textures can sound like several saxophones. This is especially pronounced on Fox Hole, where rhythmic pushes and ambulatory motion integrate short and long reed tones to the extent that Faust sounds as if she’s a multi-pitched saxophone section on her own. Variations of this are heard elsewhere. Man consists of a tremolo organ-like pulse which inflates to bounce off the stone walls and concludes with massive pulses that sound like all the organ’s ranks are simultaneously in use. At other points she’ll render her tones into elevated-turret brief bites and squeaks that undulate separately and in tandem until they blow away; or as on Waltzing Dust, expose lyrical trilling whose gentleness contrasts with the thick immovable stones around her. On a couple of occasions, notably on Moat, she vocalizes through her horn, adding bel canto hums alongside reed smears. All these unique abilities are put to use in splendid fashion on Fort. The processed sounds make it appear as if an entire saxophone section from soprano to bass is riffing below her as Faust’s alto saxophone honks and tongue slaps are heard at the same time as vocalized whoops. Finally as the tones shriek upwards they ricochet against the ancient masonry, ricochet back and are embedded among the reed textures.

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Author: Ken Waxman
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