Review Summary: Semi-improvised excellence in the middle ground between math rock and jazz.
At this time last year, Los Angeles stopped. Well, stopped is a little much, but you get the idea. Our greatest cultural landmarks — the 405, the 101, the 10, and the 5 — were completely devoid of traffic. Starry-eyed flyover state tourists had stopped their pilgrimages to the Hollywood Walk-of-Fame, the Venice Beach Boardwalk, and every other local that someone who lived in the city for more than five minutes wouldn’t be caught dead at, outside of an obligation to an aunt they hadn’t seen since their college graduation or some cousin’s wedding. As what we would now call COVID’s first wave hit the city, white collar workers and a vast trove of trust fund wanderers and creatives settled in for the long haul. A good portion of those not so lucky to benefit from GOP tax cuts were laid off or fired. If you were an essential worker and had to step out into what seemed like the end of the world, you could at least get from the Westside to Downtown in 15 minutes during rush hour for the first time ***ing ever, so there was at least one plus. Seriously, just that one single positive. That’s it. It didn’t quite make up for thinking that you could die or kill your family just by going to work but, in a pandemic during late stage capitalism, that was about as good as it could possibly get.
After a year of restrictions and social distancing, Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt’s Made Out of Sound
offers up two things which have been lacking in most of our lives: a sense of motion that’s bursting at the seems — running towards an endless horizon of hope and possibility; and a deep personal closeness between the two musicians that manifests in the cascading walls of sound and semi-improvised overdubs — wrapping around the listener and pulling in tight like an embrace from an old friend. Improvisational music has a tendency to bring about the the most astringent qualities of the avant-garde, but the process of how Made Out of Sound
came into existence soften those edges while still retaining much of the ebullient wonder that makes improvisation so exciting. Instead of being built from exploratory jam sessions, our new socially distanced existence required Corsano cut his drum tracks and send them to Orcutt who recorded his guitar lines and overdubs using only the peaks and valleys of the waveform as a guide.
The end result is something magical and brimming with life. Orcutt’s guitar work lies in the middle ground between Don Caballero’s math rock calculations and John McLaughlin’s spiritual sojourns. It’s technical but not heady, leaning more towards pulling every ounce of emotion from his flurry of notes than dazzling with clinical perfection. Corsano lays the foundation for Orcutt with his jazzy, cymbal heavy patterns and loose, dragging snare work. At first glance, it seems effortless but it could only be pulled off by two masters of their craft at the top of their game. As the world starts to reopen and our new not normal new normal begins to unfold, Made Out of Sound
is a testament to the excitement and possibility that awaits just outside our front doors.