Ben Monder: Amorphae (ECM, 2015)

December 12, 2015 at 7:33 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Ben Monder: Amorphae

Ben Monder: Amorphae

ECM debut from a hard-to-define American jazz guitarist. As with many ECM recordings, the production is spacious, letting the minimal instrumentation (sometimes just Monder’s guitar, often plus drums and occasionally synthesizer) fill the room with sound. The late Paul Motian plays drums on two tracks, including a very loose interpretation of “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning”, but Monder’s stunning guitar playing is clearly the star of the show. At times haunting, other times more contemplative, he does a lot with a little. Pete Rende adds subtle yet crucial synthesizer textures to “Gamma Crucis” and “Zythum”, the latter of which is an ambient dronescape with softly shuddering drums beneath it. Is this even jazz? The concluding solo piece “Dinosaur Skies” consists of dark flurries of guitar similiar to Rafael Anton Irisarri, and when it finally lets up, it feels like Monder has stepped outside of jazz entirely. An incredible album.

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