**** Joe Morris: Ultra – Fundacja Sluchaj! FSR06|2017 –  Joe Morris (guitars); Agustí Fernández (p); Tanya Kalmanovich (v, vla); Yasmine Azaiez (v); Junko Fujiwara (vcl). July 2011.

Combining guitar with bowed instruments is not as simple as it might seem  writes Joe Morris in the liner notes. Apparently, he tried for the rest time Ultra with the goal to have strings key o of the guitar and interact using percussive sounds, harmonics, and proportional expressions of pulse in addition to melodic ideas. He wanted to mix strings, flute and trumpet with improvised and composed parts. Joe abandoned this idea and few years later, working with Agustí, decided to try again, this time focusing on the completely improvised approach.

The result is indeed amazing. It is extremely rich music, in which there are three central foci: piano, guitar and strings. They are permanently interacting collectively one with another, giving, however, space for solo, duo and trio performances. Bowing is used as often as pizzicato as exemplified perfectly in the 14 minutes long »Ultraesent». Similarly, Agustí uses both piano techniques, as in »Ultraed» for instance, but combines them with the inside piano approach, as in the mentioned «Ultraesent» or «Ultracious». The highlight of the album is the 18 minutes long Ultratude, starting the Agustí’s inside piano, joined first delicately, then explosively by the strings, and then by the guitar. One can hear individual instruments, but the general impression is of great collective effort,  with oscillating moods and feelings, tensions and relaxes.

Extremely interesting record, original and unique in artistic concept. Exquisite mixing by Nick Lloyd and mastering Greg Dicrosta.


Maciej Lewenstein



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