Recommended: Tephra Sound – “Horizon”


Where it all went down was in a living room.  It started that way when Helen Gillet got together with some friends and played out.  Some other friends showed up, and they joined in, too.  It was like a potluck, but, y’know, with instruments.  The recording session went down in that same living room.  The sense of sharing and the variety of sounds on Horizon, it all comes off like a potluck, too.

Gillet is keyed into the traditions of her New Orleans home turf.  Even though Horizon takes all kinds of genre detours, this music is mainlined into a traditional sound.  The boisterous “Unzen” makes it clear right from the start, however, that anything old-school is likely to be populated with students of new-school experience and no-school visions.  The gospel groove of “Valles Caldera” breaks free at will, sometimes in a disintegrating bop and other times unleashed from any tag at all.  The three-part “Elden Suite” adds some chamber elegance to the affair, and then gradually betrays the view that fun is more important than elegance.  On the subject of fun, it’s particularly enjoyable when the ensemble runs wild and free and then suddenly coalesces into boozy, euphoric shout of the blues.  “Stromboli” is a good spot to check that out.  For an immersion into the rhythmic pulse of the recording, “Erta Ale” and “Krakatoa” are different views on how repetition or randomness can both lead to focus and unity.

“Piton de la Fournaise” brings the album to a close, and does it with the same exuberance and diversity the album introduced itself with, as well as the same attitude of fun.  There isn’t a moment on Horizon that isn’t joyful.  Tephra Sound conjures up a unique kind of magic.

Your album personnel:  Helen Gillet (cello, loops, megamouth), Rex Gregory (alto sax), Alex Massa (trumpet), Nikki Glaspie (drums, keyboards, bell wheel), Brian Haas (piano) and guests:  Jessica Lurie (flute, loops, alto saxophone, effects), Weedie Braimah (djembe), Annie Ellicott (voice, clapping).

Released on Tephra Sound Records.

Listen to more of the album on the artist’s Bandcamp page.

Music from New Orleans.

Available at:  Bandcamp