Collin Sherman: Suitable Benchmarks of Reform (Ex-Tol Recordings, 2022)

January 12, 2022 at 6:49 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Collin Sherman: Suitable Benchmarks of Reform

On his 13th album, New York’s Collin Sherman continues performing as a virtual band, layering synths, horns, guitars, and drums played entirely by himself. Making more usage of modular synths than was noticeable on his previous album, opener “Phalanx Strictures” rolls along with a melodic sequence set in 15/4 time, providing a framework for Sherman’s freewheeling solos. “Rival Machinations” is entirely improvised, however, and sounds totally unhinged, with drums flailing and alto sax careening outward rather than focusing on a recognizable melody. Additionally, the piece incorporates MIDI prepared piano, which sounds stark and percussive. “Worthless Objects and Photographs Thereof” feels more stripped-down and acoustic, consisting mostly of hand percussion and woodwinds, although a glowing synth bassline glues the song together; altogether, it feels like music fit for a thorough investigation scene. The remainder of the album is given over to the four-part “Rumination Suite”, which takes its time to gradually develop, intriguingly built on slow beats on a MIDI tongue drum, resembling an electronic stone object. There’s surf/western-style guitar riffs on “Faults and Missteps”, while “Things Turn Around” is sparse and suspenseful, with some strange resonations. Finally, “Foundations of Serenity” is a piano-driven processional with an erupting sax solo near the end.

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