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Mat Maneri/Evan Parker/Lucian Ban: Sounding Tears (Clean Feed)

Review of album by string player Mat Maneri, featuring Evan Parker and Lucian Ban

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Cover of Mat Maneri album Sounding Tears
Cover of Mat Maneri album Sounding Tears

The fourth track of this record is “Blessed,” composed by Mat Maneri. It is slower and quieter than any funeral dirge, and more somber. Lucian Ban places isolated piano notes like pale dots of light amid black silence. When Maneri’s hushed viola enters, you think he might connect those dots, and you hope for meaningful interaction. But Maneri stays in his own quivering, creaking domain. At first you cannot be sure you are hearing Evan Parker’s saxophone, but its breathy murmuring eventually ascends to audibility. You strive to perceive patterns, and sometimes you think you notice Parker returning some portion of a Maneri phrase, or Ban’s fragments implying skeletal counterpoint with the other two voices. “Blessed” provokes curiosity because you have rarely heard a piece of music so perversely uneventful.

The problem is that many listeners will never get to track four. Whereas “Blessed” has a notated melody, however evaporative, the first three tracks are free improvisations. They are as turgid as “Blessed,” but more random and even less attractive. Those who hang in until track seven will hear an actual interesting form composed by Ban, two separate lines (in separate hands) weaving and intersecting. It is “Polaris,” for piano only. But the next piece, “Scilence,” entirely improvised like most of the album, is more painfully ponderous navel contemplation by the trio.

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Originally Published