Review of Raven by Joe Morris – Ben Hall – Andria Nicodemou, Catalytic Sound, 2017
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”
In his essay “The Importance of the Single Effect in a Prose Tale,” Edgar Allan Poe maintained his belief that every short story should be based on a kind of “the unity of effect.” In “The Philosophy of Composition” Poe addresses his poetry by writing an essay describing methodically the aesthetic techniques and the aesthetic choices he used to write “The Raven”. Poe discusses meticulously the subject, the setting, the sound and the merit of the refrain he used.
Why do I quote Allan Poe? First of all, for the beautiful cover of this record, where a royal raven scrutinizes us with a decisive and yet disturbing way, secondly because I think that Joe Morris (guitar, effects), Ben Hall (drums, tympani, percussion) and Andria Nicodemou (vibraphone , percussion) have wanted to “write” a real music essay on how to set up a musical improvisation work. “Raven” is a radical record where each one of its three human components brings the expressive language of the respective instruments to the limits and where it is clear their goal of broadening their musical horizons. What strikes me most is the solid interplay created by the three musicians, an interplay that concretizes in an articulated and well orchestrated sound exchange, where each one is left a free space of expression while at the same time maintaining a sort of organized anarchy. Morris’s guitar always finds new spaces and new shapes, changes skin, changes sounds, and is constantly renewed. The result is a colorful and structured soundtrack in which it is also possible to immerse themselves, observing in depth the development of their changing shapes. Recommended for those who love free improvisation.
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!