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Exploding Star Orchestra – Galactic Parables vol.1


Recorded at Sant’Anna Arresi, August 2013 



Quello di Galactic Parables: Volume 1 è uno dei progetti più ambiziosi del “cosmo” (il termine è quanto mai pertinente) di Rob Mazurek. Opera complessa e sfaccettata di argomento fantascientifico (i testi sono del poliedrico Damon Locks dei The Eternals), questo lavoro consente alla Exploding Star Orchestra di dare spazio a tutte le sue pazzesche potenzialità.
È una musica che ha metabolizzato al meglio la lezione di Sun Ra, questa, smussandone alcune ingenuità visionarie e ombreggiando tutto con un immaginario che si nutre delle intuizioni di un Samuel R. Delany o di uno Stanislaw Lem. Ma è tutta la linea di tradizione sperimentale afroamericana, dall’AACM al Miles Davis elettrico, a fornire spunti e materiale per questa complessa architettura sonora, talvolta sfiorando curiosamente -come era già successo in passato a Mazurek -suggestioni jazz-prog europee.
Suddivisa in sei suggestivi quadri che attraversano atmosfere molto differenti che spaziano dalla melodia sorniona e intrigante al tropicalismo afrofuturista, attraversata da voci minacciose e al tempo stesso ipnotiche, Galactic Parables: Volume 1 viene qui presentata -in 2 CD o 3 LP – affiancando la documentazione della prima assoluta a San’Anna Arresi (il fantastico festival sardo ha il merito di avere commissionato quest’opera) alla ripresa chicagoana di qualche mese dopo, splendida occasione per entrare dentro il meccanismo dell’Orchestra, che plasma i materiali ogni volta in modo differente.
Galassie in movimento, cangianti e emozionanti.
Una musica bellissima, anche grazie al contributo dei tanti meravigliosi collaboratori (da Jeff Parker a Nicole Mitchell, passando per gli immancabili compagni Underground, sia di Chicago che di Sao Paulo) di Mazurek. Un affresco da ammirare ogni volta con orecchie nuove, non delude mai

Enrico Bettinello

“In the past twelve-month period, composer, electronic artist and cornet virtuoso Rob Mazurek has lead on a half-dozen or so different releases. For the most part, each has featured different line ups and formations from solo efforts to large ensembles and each has garnered enough superlatives to tax the thesaurus. And yet again, Mazurek has raised the bar with his most impressive, far reaching and unique collection with the astounding Galactic Parables: Volume 1. Backed by the revolving cohort that is the Exploding Star Orchestra, this commissioned suite expands on the concepts that Mazurek began shaping with Matter Anti-Matter: Sixty Three Moons of Jupiter (Rougeart, 2013) 
Released on the heels of an adrenalin-packed 2015 US tour with his São Paulo Underground and Black Cube SP, Galactic Parables: Volume 1 documents live performances at Sardinia’s Sant’Anna Arresi Jazz Festival and a later performance at the Chicago Cultural Center, both from 2013. Inspired in part by the music and overarching themes of Sun Ra and linked to AACM history in Mazurek’s hometown of Chicago, the artist has long painted on a broader canvas, geographically, energetically and spiritually. This double-disc collection (and three LPs in the vinyl version) continues Mazurek’s exploration of dimensions and concepts that defy boundaries and definitions. 
The two live performances presents unique variations of the same five compositions, with “Helmets in Our Poisonous Thoughts #16 / Awaken the World #41” performed as a medley on the Italian disc but broken out at the Chicago performance. Damon Locks provides the text and interpretation of allegories on the spirit world and slavery, bookending Mazurek’s compositions and adding occasional excerpts of Sun Ra’s own verbal expressions. The first disc opens with the twenty-plus minute “Free Agents of Sound” where Locks’ recitation builds in intensity then gives way to Mazurek’s elegiac cornet, opening the door to the larger group. Guitarist Jeff Parker and pianist Angelica Sanchez have stirring solo moments followed by a swirl of instruments and some forceful performances from drummer John Herndon and saxophonist Matthew Bauder. 
Without pause, Locks’ narrative moves onto “Make Way to the City / The Arc of Slavery #72 (Part 1),” his voice electronically manipulated and finally breaking up like an errant satellite transmission. Another very lyrical solo from Sanchez guides the piece as she transitions to something much more resembling a Cecil Taylor abstraction. Mazurek’s cornet growls its introduction but his playing overall is some of his best; pure and piercing tones, with less electronic deployment than on some of his recent work. “The Arc of Slavery #72 (Part 2)” begins like an airborne waltz with a steadiness that underlies the building conflagration. After a particularly stirring reading, the larger ensemble swells to an emotional pitch on “Helmets in Our Poisonous Thoughts #16 / Awaken the World #41” followed by the exotic, electronic Nuevo-calypso of “Collections of Time” which closes the first disc with some beautiful and soulful cornet. 
The second disc excludes São Paulo Underground keyboardist Guilherme Ganado and his trio mate percussionist Mauricio Takara as well as Chicago Underground drummer/percussionist Chad Taylor. In the Chicago set, flautist and long-time Mazurek collaborator Nicole Mitchell adds a distinct turn on these versions of the compositions. Along with Parker’s sometimes lucid, sometimes thrashing guitar, the pieces take on a new dimension while retaining the difficult balance between avant-garde improvisations, rock oriented grooves, electronics, narration and poignant impressionistic scores. 
Galactic Parables: Volume 1 surpasses anything Mazurek has done to date. Pulsing brushes with disarray, intense and stimulating improvisations and gorgeous melodies are combined, broken apart and—in the end—translated to beautifully extended movements. Mazurek and company play in the moment whether in unhurried, probing passages or in unstructured expeditions into alien territory. This is riveting and spontaneous art, restless, moving and rewarding beyond expectation. It offers abundant satisfaction to anyone disposed to accept it on its own standing”.
Karl Ackermann


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