Personnel: Dave Douglas (trumpet); Jonathan Maron (bass synthesizer, electric bass); Mark Guiliana (drums); Shigeto (electronics).
Audio Mixer: Steve Wall.
Recording information: The Bunker, Brooklyn, NY (10/10/2014).
Photographer: Geoff Countryman.
Arranger: Dave Douglas .
The second album from Dave Douglas' High Risk ensemble, 2016's Dark Territory, finds the trumpeter reuniting with electronic musician Zachary Shigeto Saginaw, aka Shigeto, for another set of ambient, highly inventive, and exploratory cuts. Once again joining Douglas and Shigeto are group members Jonathan Maron on electric and synth bass and Mark Guiliana on acoustic and electric drums. As with 2014's High Risk, Dark Territory features live, in-studio performances Douglas has dubbed "electro-acoustic" jams. These primarily consist of computer- and synth-based soundscapes created by Shigeto that Douglas and his ensemble play along to. Shigeto then manipulates and interacts with the band and his soundscapes in real time, sculpting the proceedings. The result is a sound that falls somewhere in between experimental electronica and avant-garde jazz improvisation. For fans of High Risk, Dark Territory offers much of the same otherworldly, acid-soaked vibe of its predecessor with cuts that feel looser, more organic, and live. Ironically, while nothing here sounds as if it was noted on staff paper, these rambling, groove-oriented tracks feel more composed, or at least mapped-out, than the dark sci-fi dreamscapes of High Risk. Where that album felt like it was recorded on the bloodshot-eyed surface of mars, Dark Territory is the sound of a band skimming the waves of an ocean planet. Cuts like the airy "Celine" and the loping "Mission Acropolis" showcase the group's ability to create the sound of three-dimensional aural space with Douglas' burnished tone bumping gently against Shigeto's bubbly electronics, Maron's woody drums, and Guiliana's densely gurgling bass. Similarly, tracks like the ominously textured "Let's Get One Thing Straight" and the frenetic, techno beat-infused "Ridge Hill" find the band diving into multi-mirrored landscapes where Douglas' fuzztone trumpet is looped back upon itself like a message sent to and then returned from a distant satellite. Ultimately, it's that visual and physical tangibility of Douglas and Shigeto's collaborations that makes Dark Territory such a heightened listening experience. ~ Matt Collar