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Jeff Morris: Interfaces (Ravello)

Review of album that teams the "technology performer" with Karl Berger and Joe Hertenstein

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Cover of Jeff Morris album Interfaces
Cover of Jeff Morris album Interfaces

Creative improvisation meets Pro Tooled free-electronica? “Technology performer” Jeff Morris combines tape loops, found sounds, and machine noise with the live performances of renowned German musician Karl Berger (vibes/piano) and Joe Hertenstein (drums). Interfaces is less jazz than rumbling man-machine commentary, like La Monte Young improvising at a DIY shortwave radio convention. More typical instruments figure in to the improvisations (including accordion and scattered overdubbed piano), but noise of all shapes and sizes enlarges and encompasses Morris’ grand sonic equation. For those bored with free jazz and straight-ahead classicism, Interfaces opens a doorway, through which it plunges headfirst.

“Upzy” begins with the sounds of a dying battery attempting ignition. Tape loops fly overhead and treated drums dabble in various tempos. Piano breaks through, announcing a weird cadence over stumbling live drums. Something crunches below, sounding like plastic being squashed. “InWhich” suggests a horror scenario, grinding levers and subsonic quakes churning like monsters in the dark; a piano hammers a cluster of notes, then more darkness and sonic oddities. A welcome vibraphone melody opens “Into,” followed by playful percussion. And an actual swing rhythm finds its way into “ThreeAtOne,” a rare moment of musical reprieve in an album of disjuncture and spasm.

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