TRAVIS DUO: Jarvis Earnshaw & Trevor Dunn – HYPNAGOGIA

Jarvis Earnshaw and Mr. Bungle’s Trevor Dunn mutate jazz into a wholly new and abstract beast on the wonderfully warped Hypnagogia.

On this wild record, Trevor Dunn, who has also played with the likes of Fantômas and John Zorn, utilizes a contrabass to create a solid backdrop of springy notes and groaning drones for Jarvis Earnshaw, of whom you may know from SYRINX and the Luke Stewart and Jarvis Earnshaw Quartet, to swirl his sitar, tape loops and spirited vocalizations around.

Joining the duo is Daniel Carter on flute (who also shares sax duties with Devin Brahja Waldman), Philip Glass Ensemble’s Sean McCaul on xylophone and Niko Wood on drums. Together, the group creates fluid soundscapes that constantly straddle the line between the abrasive and the spiritual. It constantly feels as though at any moment, the group could hurdle off deep into either direction, yet they remain entirely focused on a fine blend of the two styles.

One minute, the ensemble is combining scratchy bowed bass lines and scattered percussion with shouting Linda Sharrock-like vocals, and the next, they’re fusing mellow flute passages and mini-sitar melodies with pleasantly disoriented tape loops. The vast versatility of the musicians, Earnshaw and Dunn especially, is fully on display here, as they Frankenstein together the more discordant vibes of Albert Ayler with the meditative calm of artists like Alice Coltrane.

This impressive hybrid of styles is especially wild on the bonus track, “Lolloping Theta Broom Horse,” when it incorporates an Ornette Coleman tune seamlessly into its kaleidoscopic haze of feverish sax and twinkling sitar and vibraphones. Most groups would fracture and produce an uneven mess of a recording if they tried to blend these two very different approaches together, yet the duo and their guest musicians remain strongly unified in their vision. This outstanding ying-yang of a record is a testament to that.

If your record collection contains a wealth of LPs by Don Cherry, Pharoah Sanders and the Sharrocks, then this album belongs in your hands as well. Click here to order yours now.

-KH

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Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and Thewaster.com and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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