Fred Frith Trio – Another Day in Fucking Paradise

Another DayBy way of a contrast to the hyper-detailed improv Frith concocts with MMM associates Alvin Curran, Joëlle Léandre, and Urs Leimgruber on Oakland/Lisboa, his own trio’s Another Day in Fucking Paradise (Intakt) is a concentrated, time-stretched take on power trioism.

It’s a 49 minute, 11 track studio album recorded in Oakland, in January 2016, with Frith in the company of electric bassist Jason Hoopes and drummer Jordan Glenn, both mainstays of the music scene around Frith’s adopted home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Frith describes the trio’s MO as unpremeditated, saying that its musical themes emerged only after an intensive tour of Europe, during which: “I appeared to be channeling some of my earliest rock and roll experiences – jamming with members of Pink Fairies in 1969, a couple of sad weeks in a band with Syd Barrett.” He goes on to tip practically every inventive guitarist of the era, from Macca to Sonny Sharrock, as influential.

With this trio, Frith says: “Anything can happen. Really. It’s a bloody great feeling,” but given such ebullience and the album’s sassy title its material cohesion and restraint may be unexpected.

Each piece segues into the next, so the album plays as a single piece with variegated movements, and packs in plenty of Frith’s powerful, complex and painterly fretwork.

From the tolling bells that introduce “The Origin of Marvels” to the lead bass and guitar-stippled clattering percussion of “Dance of Delusion” and Frith’s first liquid fire lead solo, to his muttered vocal on the spaced-out proto-chant “Poor Folly” and the funked-up industrial minimalism of  “La Tempesta”, the album’s opening moments slip and segue from vibe to vibe, defying the ear to pin anything down.

This run slips into abstraction on “Glimmers of Goodbyes”, with Frith casting an FX shimmer over a bass/drum workout reminiscent of Raoul Bjorkenheim’s Scorch Trio, and then surges into “Yard with Lunatics” – at 11:31, the album’s longest track by over 5 minutes.

The initial overspill then dissipates into a stretch where there’s more space for Frith to unspool long, layered sustains as a canvas for more gestural splashes of colour. With no way-markers for guidance Hoopes and Glenn could sink into the alluvium, but they stay attuned and the bassist takes up the melodic lead then doubles up on contrabass to keep the pulse of the music alive.

“Only Light and Shadow” sees Frith amping up the effects and peeling off some taut lead lines. His partners initially seem more restless, but their heightened tension slips into “The Sleep of Reason”, and a zone of lulling bell-chimes -the closest the trio come to Frith’s electro-acoustic trio Death Ambient.

Hoopes’ Contrabass is a steady, luminous presence amid percussive agitation and raw electrical noise on “Straw Men”, but “The Deserted Garden” and “Schlechtes Gewissen” bring late flowerings of turbulence and friction, with a lovely Fripp-esque tonality sweetening the former, and  variegated tones of friable volatility synthesised to accompany sweaty bowed bass and taut frame drumming on the latter.

As the multi-tracked progressive improv of “Phantoms of Progress” slowly dissolves into washes of guitar synth the trio’s pulse seems to weaken, but it’s just a feint: outro “The Ride Home” is bass-sprung, and whisked briskly along by Glenn’s brushed snare with Frith free, as ever, to conjure his extraordinary richly-textured and multi-layered guitar parts.

Musicians
Fred Frith electric guitar, voice; Jason Hoopes electric bass, double bass; Jordan Glenn drums, percussion.

Related Posts
MMM Quartet (Joëlle Léandre, Fred Frith, Alvin Curran, Urs Leimgruber) – Oakland/Lisboa.
Fred Frith and John Butcher – The Natural Order.
Fred Frith with Christian Marclay, John Edwards, and Mark Sanders at Cafe Oto, 6 &7 July 2012.

Buy Another Day in Fucking Paradise direct from Intakt.

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