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Who Cares How Long You Sink is one of Chicago bassist and composer Jason Ajemian?s many avant-jazz related projects, and one not to be missed. WCHLYS is a large ensemble of horns, reeds, percussion and strings devoted to, if not timelessness, then the organic time of flux, which aims to summon and invoke the harmonic possibilities and poetic essence of the cloud, of celestial bodies, of daydreams. It is, quite easily, one of the best records I?ve heard this year, and certainly the most exhilarating, refreshing and delightfully shocking.
Their second CD, ?Folk Forms Evaporate Big Sky?, employs 31 musicians playing a score which emphasizes natural breathing rhythms over structured time, ?choices? over the set path. Notes and phrases are based on the players? own inhalation/exhalation cycles. What results is a sort of interlocking and overlapping columned music which faintly resembles a symphony tuning up in the distance, but much, much more.
There are intimations of forms as the title suggests, but due to the hallucinatory drift created by the collision of personal time signatures, they do exactly as the title intimates, rising like vapor off of a hellish desert highway into surreal skies impossible to define by physical law. This music truly engages a calculus of internal explosions which gleefully blows your head off. What appears to be linear becomes a-linear. What appears be circular and discordant becomes vividly melodic, then soon dissipates?or reforms, gets combobulated, only to restart its strange cycle again from multiple starting points.
One thing that makes it work so well is a sense that the musicians are careful to exercise restraint, contrasting abrupt seizures of sound which puncture the minimal motifs, providing that startling jolt which makes this a stand-out. The vox also tears through; I assume it?s Ajemian?s words and voice, rising up wistfully from the gorgeous, sweet morass and mingling with the mimosa and other exotic fragrances of high register and sublime harmonics, only to plummet back into the swirl and disappear. The vocal quality is at times reminiscent of Robert Ashley, citing something vulnerable and calling something wild. And the words, to match, are a stream-of-conscious mix of earthly desire and stratospheric bliss:
Just a dream/She?s just a dream/With eyes I can hold
What all-How much it/Keeps you same, creaking limbs, lubed/
Out of motion action slowed/Focus lost in attention
I?d be remiss, also, if I didn?t mention the role chance plays in these five short compositions. There are accidental harmonies set against rolling clashes, providing organic and insouciant tension; even so, it?s a tension built for ecstasy. Like the vocals, these chance encounters of tone and timbre play brilliantly across the sonic spectrum, encompassing a wealth of emotion and spawn considerable envy at the method of execution.
?Folk Forms Evaporate Big Sky? is what music is for?to define, undefine and redefine, to forget and remember, to struggle and release?and most importantly, to be inventively and innovatively musical. 10/10 -- P. Somniferum (13 August, 2007)
Foxy Digitalis: review