Monday, October 15, 2012

Tim Kuhl St Helena 2012

New sounds...The thing I love most about this gig is when an Independent artist reaches out to me with their release and ask if I can take for a spin. There is so much good improvised music floating around in cyber space that the Independent artist I may not have given the time of day two years ago are the same artists I get equally as excited about sharing as I do some major label talent.

Tim Kuhl and St. Helena are no exception! This is the day of the digital download and this is the only format this release is currently available in. I'm old school only recently having picked up my first MP3 player and St. Helena makes the digital transition nicely!

This particular seven song collection serves as percussionist/composer Tim Kuhl's fourth release. While terms such as "organic" or "eclectic" can be a bit played out, the release is tagged as chamber or experimental jazz. You can thank a critic for coming up with the arbitrary tag of experimental or free jazz which only happened due to the fact if a critic didn't have the slightest clue as to an appropriate description, theoretical or otherwise then they had to tag it with something. St. Helena is a beautiful piece of work oddly reminiscent of seven one one act plays within one larger production. There is unconventional instrumentation and the group has the ability to shift meter and sonic color almost at will all while maintain a deceptively accessible melodic bent to their craft. This is open ended improvisational music that is the worst nightmare for most critics as it crashes the traditional experimental jazz glass ceiling while morphing into a cinematic hybrid with an at times neo-classical base.

The title tune "St. Helena" contains a haunting melody that churns just below the harmonic surface of this most unique exploratory. "Pandora's Box" maintains this same deceptively subtle lyrical sense of direction with shifting meter and Kuhl's controlled sonic fury on drums and the trombone work of Rick Parker. A particular favorite is "Indigo Blue" which is a percussive melodic excursion into the cerebral while creating a virtual three dimensional sonic depth of field thanks to the use of an ambient sounding pedal steel. Amazing nuances abound in this release as some new gold nugget of layered texture is discovered with each subsequent spin of the disc.

While still getting used to the day of the digital download the price of this release is (according to the web site at this time) a whopping seven dollars. I drop more than that on one visit to Starbucks with the end result often not near as tasty.

Check out for more information.

Like it or not this is an incredibly organic release but the masterful harmonic colors Kuhl uses to paint with make this uniquely different. Highly recommend!

Tracks: 3612 (A Sparkling Sapphire); St. Helena; Pandora's Box; Emperor Butterfly; Dead Bell; Tales of Transformation; Indigo Blue.


Ryan Ferreira: electric guitar (track 1)
Sofia Impellizzeri: voice, countess (track 2 & 4)
Tim Kuhl: drums, cymbals, gong, assorted percussion, glockenspiel
Grey Mcmurray: electric & acoustic guitar, effects, voice
Rick Parker: trombone, effects
Jared Samuel: electric & synth bass, celeste
Philip Sterk: pedal steel guitar (track 2 & 7)
Joshua Valleau: wurlitzer, synth