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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

David Maranha - Marches of the New World [Grain of Sound - 2007]

Marches of the New World starts off with a slow marching drumbeat and some droning Hammond Organ. The piece gets noisy and distorted as it goes, and it's embellished with some cool violin work. The manipulated Hammond has a deep, amped-up sound which is not often heard in drone or improv music.

The Hammond is often used in blues-rock because it sounds smooth and organic. Medesky, Martin and Wood have used them, and even distorted them a little, but they've got nothing on David Maranha. I don't know if he's a great musician, simply an expert at generating cool sounds using minimal effects, or both. But it hardly matters. This music is original, intense and refreshing.

These pieces do hearken back a bit to the work of Tony Conrad, and pre-Velvets John Cale and Angus Maclise, primarily because the drone element is harsh, and because of the inclusion of strings and percussion. But the music only touches on these elements, possibly by coincidence. The jazz/rock element to these improvisations takes the album into its own realm. Antonio Forte's drums anchor these pieces with a walloping beat, keeping it simple, while avoiding sounding monochromatic. Tiago Miranda's percussion is simple and uncluttered as well, and if you dip your head in a little closer, adept accents are revealed. Cellist Helen Espvall is sympathetic and just subversive enough to blend with the shifting racket going on around her.

The focal point of this music is undoubtedly David Maranha's Hammond, though. The rich, distorted tones that he generates are invigorating. It's unlikely for an improv album to include the instruction "to be played loud" on it's sleeve, as Marches of the New World does. But it's advice well taken, as this is some of the most physical and energizing improv that you're likely to hear in a long while.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Erwin Michelfelder
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