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HomeMusicLaraaji, Agnes Martian, Music for Connection, Hair and Space Museum – Coincidence

Laraaji, Agnes Martian, Music for Connection, Hair and Space Museum – Coincidence

The album Coincidence came about when four distinct musical entities managed – more by luck than judgment – to share some recording time together. The original plan was for free-improv ambient experimentalists Music For Connection to join forces with out-there space-jazzers Agnes Martian at Beauty Supply Arts, a community space and recording studio in Oakland. As is often the case in this kind of place, other musicians started to drop in. Laraaji, whose work skirts the jazzier edges of new age and sacred music, sat in on piano and vocal duties, while the duo Hair and Space Museum (Emily Pothast and David Golightly) provided more vocals, synths and various studio effects.

Early Light’s first few minutes are a reflection of the waking brain unhurriedly configuring itself. A mild confusion of background studio sound gives way to a slow, questing music that seems to explore the region where dreams meet reality. There is a decidedly spiritual element at play from the outset: think Alice Coltrane at her most avant-garde or Pharoah Sanders at his most meditative.  

The sound has a rich quality and a range of satisfying timbral variations. Early Light’s middle section lays on a thick, free jazz sax groove over clattering percussion, but remains texturally light. The richness comes from the individual tone and sharpness of each instrument, and they work together crisply, never becoming soupy or torpid, even in the most heavily layered sections. Early Light’s final few minutes feature a quietly locked-in percussive groove and a flutter of synths.

Leap of Interfaith begins with a wandering bouzouki melody that puts out tentative feelers for a few minutes before a more forceful contribution emerges with confident keys and spacy swoops of Korg. Alien synth patterns converse with ancient-sounding melodies in what sounds like a collaboration between past and future: it is utterly captivating, and before you know it, you are ten minutes into a twenty-four-minute improvisation, dragged along by the constantly evolving musical shapes. This is music that makes you question not just your way of listening but also your grip on the passage of time. Towards its conclusion, Leap of Interfaith seems to coalesce into something resembling an old, repetitive devotional folk tune, only here it is washed by swathes of Afro-futurist jazz.

Numinosity – comparatively fleeting at ten minutes – flips the agenda, moving from a fervid, zealous intro through itchy percussion and effects into a more recognisable realm of jazz, albeit with glittering lattices of electronic sound floating freely over the top of it all. The fourth and final piece, Recurrent Dream – a long improvisation which grew out of Laraaji’s piano – begins with shimmering percussion, laser-beam bursts synth and wordless vocalisations then settles into a slow-paced, widescreen soundscape where the electronics can skitter wildly over a grounded bassline or a persistent background thrum. A long sequence of improvised brass and keys follows, the track moving at will between spiritual jazz and all-out avant-gardism.

Coincidence is a record bursting with the joy of spontaneous creativity. Its long, improvised pieces never fall into a rut, and every minute of this album is delightfully different from the last. It is both an uncompromising demonstration of free and experimental spiritual jazz and a document attesting to the power of collaboration.

Recorded September 17, 2023, at Beauty Supply Arts in Oakland.

A collaborative release (May 31, 2024) between Centripetal Force / Transitory Tapes / Working Name Studios.

Digital/Vinyl (plus Zine): Bandcamp

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