Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The SoHo Rentals TSR33 2013

TSR33 cover art

The SoHo Rentals sum up the reason I stopped contributing to various publications. Tired of anal retentive editors and the endless stream of one trick ponies that consistently crossed my desk, I set out on my own looking for new sounds, fresh ideas and the creative energy that would recharge my sonic DNA while captivating both the cerebral and visceral components of the human spirit. I have had the honor of reviewing fresh and innovative groups from as far away as Iceland and Japan with The SoHo Rentals as perhaps the finest example of raw organic improvisational music played at an incredibly high level of professioncy. I am even more honored to mention The SoHo Rentals reached out to me so that I may give their work consideration for critical review.

A piano / drum duo?

Not as rare as one might think but I challenge the average listener to name one that has taken up residence in their subconscious for longer then it takes to listen to the work in question. Argentina is most famous for what may well be the most challenging form of improvisational music being the nuevo tango, yet this incredible duo transcends self imposed limitations of format and genre to create a dynamic voicing where the drums are playing where the piano is not and thus creates at the very least, an illusion of a second lead voice. In the day of the digital download where production values can have the most eclectic of ensembles sounding as though their music has been sanitized for your protection, The SoHo Rentals are captured live, one take and no overdubs. Magical moments roam unfettered by the conventional form and function that seems to override the work of some artists here in the United States. Deep rich voicing manipulated by the deft touch of  Alejo Nobili and the deceptively subtle percussive nuances of Matias Menarquez create a sound that is both heavy in texture yet intricate and precise in execution to create this musical happy place of connectivity between the artist and their creative freedom. Shifting harmonics, odd meter, and vibrant compositions come together for a captivating ebb and flow. The sonic equivalent of Bill Evans and Paul Motian.

"La Hora" is an exquisite piece steeped in deep rich sophisticated harmonies and a melodic depth of flavor that is incredibly unique. The cover of the classic David Bowie tune "Heroes" is an inventive reharm where the lyrical integrity is never lost to the self indulgent. "Cortezas" is an intimate and introspective composition with a spatial differential that turns this composition into a harmonic exploratory. In terms of analysis, to find fault here would be the critical equivalent of milking a dead cow. There is simply nothing here to grind on, utter perfection from cover art to final note this release transcends the confines of traditional jazz with a special hybrid of Latin rhythms and Argentinian folk music anchored with a more contemporary melodic base which is why the reharms of more popular music work so incredibly well.

Artists often mull over the question in their quiet time being, "Did I make the right move?" Critics are no different. The sheer beauty and dynamic range of this amazing duo reconfirms setting out on my own quest to challenge my musical comfort zone was indeed time well spent.

Personnel: Alejo Nobili: piano; Matias Menarquez: drums.
Tracks: La Hora; Don't Let It Bring You Down; Sol; Desde Lejos; Hermes; 5 de Febrero; Casual; Heroes; Cortezas.

One of the very best for 2013!