Christopher Icasiano: Provinces (Origin Records, 2020)

February 29, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Christopher Icasiano: Provinces

The first solo album from Christopher Icasiano (of Seattle-based jazz group Bad Luck) contains two continuous suites (“Provinces” and “Taho”) related to the complexity of cultural identity as a second generation Filipino-American. The album consists entirely of complex, sometimes frenzied drumming mixed with ambient synths as well as some field recordings from the Philippines. On the first track, which goes for ten minutes, he keeps up a rapid beat which almost sounds like grindcore drumming but isolated from the smothering guitar riffs, but then he twists it into some mind-bending phasing patterns. Then the second track begins with a breakdown, after which the drumming returns, more splintered and broken, and the synths rise up into some triumphant melodies. by the fourth track, drums have been replaced by icy drum machines and the synths are like a gust of frozen wind. Finally, a wistful late-night melody emerges, and then in the last movement the drums return as an explosion of color and feeling. “Taho” begins with some more brain-scrambling rhythmic patterns, but then the second movement is more of a study of experimental drumming techniques, some very outside-the-box stuff. The final movement is where an abstract melody whisks back in, along with more partly electronic drumming. Really creative stuff.

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