Hold On Before Listening To The Silence Collective’s RiverChants LP

By Deuce

If you want to hear a 20-minute cut, you might have to dig in the archives and blow the dust off of the first track on Freddie Hubbard’s 1970’s masterpiece Straight Life. Or if it just so happens to be a vernal or autumnal equinox, or perhaps a summer or winter solstice, you’re better off zoning to Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has A Master Plan” on Karma.

Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll be in tune enough to reach for “Born of a Cloudburst…A Sparrow Takes a Beakful of Water”, which is the opening number on the recently released Long Player from The Silence Collective entitled RiverChants.

There are several salient similarities between this eight-person assemblage and the aforementioned jazz heavyweights. The improvisational spirit is palpable on all of the above, although one can argue that The Collective takes it to the extreme.

“Cloudburst” is largely devoid of drums, percussion, rhythm, melody and, for the most part, anything remotely resembling song structure. Some of the players fiddle around on a couple of horns, a few of the ladies hit some spontaneous high notes on the vocals, and there’s a healthy dosage of talking that seems a little too concentrated to be random vocal samples, which was likely narrated by the lengthy cast of characters including Jeff Bird, Matt Brubeck, Daniel Fischlin, Gary Diggins, Christine Duncan, Kathryn Ladano, Joe Sorbara, and Lewis Mellville.

But there’s nothing that repeats on most of this tune, which seems to be the whole point of this affair that clocks in at half a minute shy of the 20-minute marker.

In fact, desultory seems to be the motif for the rest of the album, too. The trumpet sounds pleasant enough; there’s definitely some percussion on “Alive”, but most of the vocals that invoke singing don’t even use words on this number. We’re talking ground breaking, if not revolutionary here—especially with some of the sumptuous strings on “Alive”. Makes you wonder how they got the titles of the tunes.

With only four songs on it, yet still checking in at nearly an hour’s worth of music, RiverChants is definitely avant-garde, shoves the envelope, and busts down barriers to break on through, as Mr. Morrison said, to the other side.

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