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Interactive, muscular NY improvisation from guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil, electric bassist Tom Blancarte, and drummer Andrew Drury, extending Totem>'s intensity & group empathy while expanding their range of expression in compositions balancing free playing and mysterious soundwork.

TOTEM> (Eisenbeil / Blancarte / Drury)
Voices of Grain

TOTEM> (Eisenbeil / Blancarte / Drury): Voices of Grain (New Atlantis)

Label: New Atlantis    
Released in: USA    

"With Voices of Grain, the New York-based collective improv/noise rock trio TOTEM> have constructed a dazzling follow-up to their 2008 debut for seminal experimental music label ESP-DiSK, Solar Forge. Their ESP-DiSK debut garnered rave reviews around the globe, topping year-end 'Best Of' lists at tastemakers The Wire, and Point of Departure, among many others. Voices of Grain makes for an unimpeachable, hearty, coruscating and enthusiastic follow-up, reestablishing this unit as a band operating at its full potential, at the forefront of the Downtown creative jazz community.

While the domain of creative improv often births fleeting collaborations and one-off ensembles, it is always refreshing to witness the lifecycle of a real band blossoming over the course of countless rehearsals and gigs, defying the economic odds and discarding the oft-perceived need for one single leader. TOTEM>'s new offering is absolutely the sum of its very potent parts.

Drummer Andrew Drury supplies a dazzling mix of extended techniques, stirring up waves of raucous energy, and directing the musical flow of the trio. Guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil's playing is always maddeningly articulate, alternately playing the role of melodicist and flayer of splintered atonality across the stereo field. Bassist Tom Blancarte provides shredding, rumbling harmonic counterpoint, and impeccable underpinning for the trio's cosmic gyrations.

On Voices of Grain, TOTEM> have outdone themselves, creating one of the most jaw-dropping sets of guitar trio improv yet committed to record... In the process, the band has expanded the lexicon of creative trio improvisation to include a bevy of mind-bending extended techniques for electric guitar, percussion, and upright bass."-New Atlantis

"For those that have heard TOTEM>'s Solar Forge, Voices of Grain will be familiar territory as guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil, bassist Tom Blancarte, and drummer Andrew Drury deepen and extend their intensity and group empathy while expanding their range of expression.

While Solar Forge is white hot through and through, Voices of Grain has pacing of sorts, in that translucent, spacious, and at times beautiful tracks, separate the denser, more "frantic" tracks. It is in these tracks that TOTEM> shows its growth. The liner gives no information about the track lengths, and it is just as well, because time essentially stands still and even the two 15+ minute tracks ("Genosong" and "Post- Repeating") seem to flash by.

Part of the fun of this music is the "How do they get those sounds?" question, and in this area Blancarte leads the way. Indeed, he sometimes seems to have three hands and two bows, to the point where it seems that the recording must have used overdubbing, which, however, Eisenbeil denies. He states that the music was recorded with the trio close together in one room, not playing loudly, thus giving the sounds generated time to expand. The apparent loudness on headphones could be from the closeness of recording and the tightness of the sound stage. The aural journey on which this record takes the listener is enhanced by Eisenbeil's use of panning his guitar sounds, which Eisenbeil says is audible to a live audience.

TOTEM> is a trio of virtuosi that have obviously spent much time together honing their group sound. Their music always has an intensity to it, even in the softer and more transparent passages, and the astute listener can hear each player listening and responding to the others. Waves of varying densities and sound texture build, press against the listener and then ebb away, giving the music an extremely organic feel, despite Eisenbeil's upfront electronics. Voices of Grain is a fantastic recording and well worth the time to explore its many nooks and crannies."-Budd Kopman,

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Trio Recordings

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Price: $9.56
In Stock


Shipping Weight: 4.00 units

Quantity in Basket: None

Product Information:

UPC: 0616892159346

Label: New Atlantis
Catalog ID: NA-CD-007
Squidco Product Code: 20144

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2013
Country: USA
Packaging: Jewel Case
Recorded at The Thousand Caves Recording Studios, in New York, New York by Colin Marston.


Bruce Eisenbeil-guitar

Tom Blancarte-upright bass

Andrew Drury-drum set

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Track Listing:

1. Genosong 15:21

2. Written In The Body 11:07

3. Counter Memory 10:44

4. Towards Jouissance 5:58

5. Message Without A Code 6:23

6. Post-Repeating 15:26

7. Silence On Its Road 7:56