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Tomas Ulrich/Michael Bisio/Rolf Sturm: Tomas Ulrich’s Cargo Cult

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Following its premier recording on Cadence Records, Tomas Ulrich’s Cargo Cult brings its unique sound to CIMP for a studio recording and its second release. Ulrich proclaims that this group is his dream band, one that includes bassist Michael Bisio and guitarist Rolf Sturm.

Taking a generally laid back rhythmic approach for this one-take session, the trio has produced an album consisting of a mix of lyrical melody and innovative improvisation. It is delightfully surprising to hear both lightness and playfulness tripping through the music, juxtaposed with semi-dramatic renderings. All three musicians contribute to the compositions and arrangements with the exception of “Beautiful Love.”

Ulrich’s strong-armed arco technique on cello and Bisio’s openly broad pizzicato fluency on bass continually weigh in with the pick-me-up flair of Sturm’s electric and acoustic guitar playing. The tone of Ulrich’s cello automatically speaks volumes of personality, no matter how romantic, melancholic, strangely joyful or stringently abstract his musical line sounds. Bassist Bisio invariably supplies the plane for the low tones, skillfully demarcating supportive rhythmic gestures, marking out his own wide tuneful territory or bowing in order to expand the resonance of the cello. Sturm’s guitar fulfills its timbral role consistently. Often, Sturm establishes the top layer to this cake of rich sonority. His fingers hang onto notes that linger for a couple of counts or they find ornamental figures that carry on or extend the dominant thematic direction.

“The Unlearned Lesson” sets itself apart from the other nine tracks in the compelling way in which the cello and guitar squeeze the life out of a simple tune, originally introduced with a bass interlude that winds up steadily maintaining the pulse.

These three musicians are in it for the long haul. Their next CIMP album, Lonely House, is already out.

Originally Published