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Xavi Reija - 2014 - "Resolution"

(60:28, Moonjune Records)


*****+
                 
TRACK LIST:

1.  Flying to Nowhere 7:38
2.  Macroscope 5:57
3.  Shadow Dance 5:22
4.  Dreamer 9:54
5.  Abyss 4:28
6.  The Land of the Sirenians 4:55
7.  Unfinished Love 4:44
8.  John's Song 6:24
9.  Resolution 7:00
10. Gravity 11:39
11. Welcome to the End 8:52

LINEUP:

Xavi Reija  drums 
Dusan Jevtovic  guitars 
Bernat Hernandez  bass 

Prolusion. Spanish drummer Xavi REIJA is an established fixture in the Spanish music scene, and rather renowned as well, if I have understood the descriptions of him correctly. He has a recording history going back a decade or thereabouts with two full length albums to his name with a quintet, two more albums as part of a project and a group respectively, as well as a book and a DVD. He is also a drum teacher giving regular and online classes. "Resolution" is Xavi's third full length production, his first proper solo album. It was released through Moonjune Records in the spring of 2014.

Analysis. The line-up of this album is an interesting one. At least if you know a little bit about the performers involved. From what I understand Xavi has been working rather close with guitarist Jevtovic over the years, and while I do not know all that much about bassist Hernandez I see that he has been a contributor on material Xavi has released at least dating back to 2005. All of them were also involved in Jevtovic solo debut released through Moonjune in 2013. Which means that these three musicians know each other fairly well professionally, and most likely also on a personal plane. Relations do tend to develop if you're working together over many years after all. Which explains why this album comes across as such a tight and coherent experience. The instrumentalists are safe and secure about their roles, what they are able to contribute and in what manner they should do so to the greatest benefit of all. Which also makes this solo album a somewhat peculiar experience, in that it comes across as a band experience first and foremost, and you get the feeling that the artist name here is more of an incidental feature. As far as the music itself is concerned, we're dealing with a fairly challenging set of compositions here. As is often the case when strong instrumentalists are involved I'm actually unsure about how much of this material that is actually composed, as there is a distinct improvisational quality to the music. The quality of the musicianship is high throughout from what I can tell though, but this is by no means the most accessible of material around. The steady, firm and surprisingly elegant work of drummer Xavi has a central and prominent place of course, and he's equally adept at loud, dominant drum patterns as he is with a delicate hand using percussion only. He can switch back and forth between a more distinct jazz oriented expression to a beefier and arguably simpler rock based one, and the interplay with the other contributing members are excellent throughout. Bassist Hernandez share similar qualities, alternating between more of a funk tinged expression, some more jazz-oriented runs and more of a rock based delivery, with some added twists by way of distorted and effects-flavored passages. Jevtovic appears to have more of a blues oriented sound at heart on this occasion, expanding the stylistic palette a bit and supplying a contrasting element too, but in addition his contribution is the main provider of challenging elements. While delicate plucked guitar details and careful melody based solo runs do appear, the dominant aspect of Jevtovic' guitar on this occasion consists of twisted, distorted and fairly often dark guitar sounds. With lots of reverb, lots of feedback, at times so twisted that it sounds like an instrument malfunction, and more often than not with a textured quality to it that brings post rock to mind just as often as drones. To me, the greater majority of this album is appealing. Challenging for sure, I needed several breaks when listening to this disc with full concentration, but also at times highly intriguing. Personally I'd select Dreamer as the one track to inspect for the curious, with its gradual transition from a relatively experimental starting point that gradually transitions over to a slightly demented apocalyptic avant-garde post jazz, something of the kind that might have been used as inspirational music for the likes of Dante Alighieri or Hieronymus Bosch.

Conclusion. Instrumental music residing in the borderlands between jazz and rock with a liberal amount of experimental details, textured guitars with drone-like qualities and what sounds like a fairly improvisational approach is what Xavi Reija along with his musical partners Dusan Jevtovic and Bernat Hernandez provides us with on "Resolution". While not a production I feel will have a broad appeal, it is a recording well worth investigating if you have a deep affection for music that transcends boundaries and established conceptions, especially if you are fond of music of that kind that has a fairly dark overall mood.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: October 15, 2014
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Moonjune Records
Xavi Reija


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