Beautiful synth-keyoard driven jazz with a cerebral atmosphere that's natural and artistic, as well as simply comforting to one's soul even as it challenges you, the listener, to open your ears. Maybe even your eyes, too. I select Sunrise on Pruhina as my favorite track, but really, it's all about "Goldilocks". A fave of 2021!!!
Favorite track: Sunrise on Pruhina.
Started out as a fan of Cave while living in Chicago in the late oughts, then Bitchin’ Bajas, then Ben Lamar Gay, then Astral Spirits, then Rob’s solo projects, and now this record brings ‘em all together. Terrific stuff!
On Exoplanet, Rob Frye generates an atmosphere in which drummers and improvisers orbit synthesizers, inhabiting a Goldilocks zone of electronic and biotic components. Some of the tracks were created spontaneously or composed of strict loops, but two of the arrangements are melodic adaptations of the song of Musician Wren. After working as a field biologist with the Institute for Bird Populations in California from 2012-2016, Frye began to slow down and transcribe birdsong, eventually developing a performative lecture called Hearing Hidden Melodies. "XC175020" and "XC222182" are not potential earth-like planets in another solar system, indeed they are individual birds recorded by Peter Boesman in the Amazon. This bird, known as Uirapuru in Brazil and La Flautista in Peru, reminds us of the mysterious sonic knowledge threatened on our very own home planet.
On this, his first album for Astral Spirits and his first as a leader, Rob played woodwinds and synthesizers and directed a specialized crew, recruiting Bitchin' Bajas (Drag City) bandmates Cooper Crain and Dan Quinlivan on engineering and electronics. Ben Lamar Gay's cornet (International Anthem) and Macie Stewart's violin (OHMME) pitch and roll, fueled by the dual propulsion of drummers Quin Kirchner (Astral Spirits) and Tommaso Moretti (Amalgam), while Nick Ciontea (brownshoesonly) consults on modular synthesizer. Like the Uirapuru, Edbrass Brasil (Sê-Lo!) also searches through fallen leaves in some of his own work, though for sound not insects. On "Innercosmos" we he hear his unconventional wind tubes, and on "XC222182" his voice calling as instruments gather, playing the bird's melody.
released April 23, 2021
ROB FRYE - compositions, woodwinds, synthesizers
COOPER CRAIN - electric organ, synthesizers
DANIEL QUINLIVAN - synthesizer, electronics, wurlitzer
BEN LAMAR GAY - cornet and wurlitzer
TOMMASO MORETTI - drums (right channel)
QUIN KIRCHNER - drums (left channel)
MACIE STEWART - violin on tracks 2, 5, and 7
NICK CIONTEA - synthesizer on tracks 3 and 4
EDBRASS BRASIL - wind instruments and voice track 3 and 5
Recorded by Cooper Crain at Decade
Mixed by Cooper Crain
Mastered by Mikey Young
Cover Art by Matias Santa Maria
Layout by Dylan Marcus McConnell
Thanks to Uirapuru, Ted Parker, Peter Boesman, Emily Bax, Adam Wille, Martin Frye, Cristian Pinto, Will Faber, Tadeu Mascarenhas, Estúdio Casa das Máquinas, Nate Cross, Erik Rasmussen, NASA, University of Iowa Space Audio.