Scott Rosenberg's Skronktet West


Canadian label Spool had so far released its CDs in two different series: Point, dedicated to composition; and Line, to improvisation. This CD signals the start of a new series: ARC, the Post-Rock one. Which to me sounds extremely bizarre, since in no way this album appears to feature any elements that I could recognize as related to this - admittedly not easily definable - label. EL sounds to me like a jazz record, in the modern sense of the word - say, à la Braxton. In fact, there were many items that reminded me of mid-seventies Braxton (the Arista period) - certain themes, or some timbral solutions featuring the clarinet.

Percussionist Gino Robair is the member of the group I've listened to more often; while I remember listening to some promising solo CDs by Morgan Guberman a few years ago. This is the first time I've listened to Scott Rosenberg, the leader, composer, sax and clarinet player; ditto for clarinet player Matt Ingalls and guitarist John Shiurba.

Keeping in mind their stylistic frame of reference, the group works, their level of empathy easily demonstrating this is not a one-off. Rosenberg's compositions are fine, open enough to give us a sense of discovery but not so open as to give us the whole responsibility to determine what's going on (this is obviously no theme - solos - theme music). I liked some timbral pairings very much - say, clarinet + sax, or two clarinets together; and I also liked Robair's musical colours, such as the bows on Shrrr or the pocket marimba on Sdppd + Prruer (by the way, why those titles?).

Only two things are wrong. First, I'd have preferred some more useful cover notes (say, compositional notes, or a discography) instead of political statements from the group's leader (when the identity of the buyer of this stuff is taken into consideration, it's like preaching to the converted). More important, the album is all good up to two thirds of the last track, when what sounds like an old scary riff off an old album by Univers Zero suddenly appears: why?

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2003 | May 4, 2003