Ambient Music

Andrew Raffo Dewar, John Hughes, Chad Popple – Reflejos IV-VII [Waveform Alphabet WA002] – Avant Music News

Reflejos IV-VII is the second release from the transatlantic trio of soprano saxophonist Andrew Raffo Dewar, double bassist John Hughes, and percussionist Chad Popple. Like 2018’s Reflejo, the work on which this release continues and extends, Reflejos IV-VII was recorded in Hamburg, Germany, where Hughes and Popple are currently based.

The four Reflejos are compositions by Dewar. They are members of a series of thematically organized pieces that employ forms based on inversions (mirror images or “reflections,” as Dewar’s titles have it) and related structures, as well as looped motifs. At one extreme is Reflejos V, the motif to which is a single note played by all three (with Popple on vibes, as he is on all of the Reflejos and Trizas) across staggered rhythms that produce variations in color and density. The piece eventually settles into a seven-beat pulse carried on a bass ostinato. Reflejos VII features slightly off-kilter, contrapuntally played motifs, while Reflejos VI moves from an opening featuring a reflective line on vibes floating over a gently undulating, bowed bass, to a gritty bass solo that highlights the sound of the instrument as brute material fact. In contrast to the longer and more developed Reflejos, the brief Trizas strip the music down to isolate and reveal the brief, repeated phrases that make up its conceptual core.

The melodically-organized Reflejos and Trizas are accompanied by two improvisations that explore more abstract territory notable for the salience of textures produced by extended techniques and unpitched percussion.

Daniel Barbiero

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