Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Chamberlain, a revered drummer who has appeared on recordings with Brad Mehldau, Bill Frisell, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Morrissey, Mike Gordon, Of Montreal, Marco Benevento, David Bowie and Herbie Hancock, among countless others, fully embraced the idea of exploring freely in the studio with Haas who, in addition to his solo work, tours with Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and Nolatet.
Together on 'Prometheus Risen,' Chamberlain and Haas have present spontaneous composition at its finest. Chamberlain underscores pieces like "Space Colonization," "Orange Purple Sunshine" and "African Crowley" with his signature huge groove, while also providing a rainbow of colors throughout by thinking orchestrally from behind the kit with his sampling/looping skills. Haas' melodious, fuzz inflected electric keyboard motifs (tweaked with Space Echo), alternately cascading and minimalist piano flourishes and deep dub bass-lines drives numbers like "Less Munitions," "More Mentations" and "Cosmic Vision." "Ancestral Availability" has Haas on piano and Moog bass going toe-to-toe with Chamberlain's controlled bashing in a manner that might recall Cecil Taylor's historic duet encounters with Max Roach. That adventurous, suite-like "Holding Deckard's Hand" melds cascading piano against an eerie ambient backdrop and throbbing backbeats, while "Intelligence Intensification" opens like a revved-up rocker and closes like a kinetic outtake from Philip Glass' 'Einstein on the Beach.'
Audio Mixers: Bill Palmer; Brian Haas.
Recording information: Frogville Records, Santa FE, NM.
Photographer: Joe Cappa.
The second album of instrumental music from pianist/keyboardist Brian Haas and drummer/programmer Matt Chamberlain, 2016's Prometheus Risen is a sci-fi and space-themed production that finds the duo expanding upon the exploratory and stylistically varied sound of their debut, 2013's Frames. The difference this time out is that while Frames featured a set of well-crafted and finely honed compositions, on Prometheus Risen Haas and Chamberlain present a set of songs that were all improvised live in the studio. These are ambient recordings, rife with sparkling, synth-heavy atmospherics, spiraling percussion segments, and crackling bursts of white noise and digital squelch. Despite the free-flowing nature of the session, the tracks never sound poorly executed or randomly conceived. In fact, many of the cuts, like the chilly, groove-oriented "Space Colonization" and the kinetic "Orange Purple Sunshine" with its roiling, jazzy Philip Glass-ian piano figure, sound as composed as anything off Frames. Partly this is due to Haas' use of riff-like melodic statements that Chamberlain plays off of, accenting each line with a call-and-response framework of percussive beats, both real and electronic. Other tracks, like the frenetic, bug-like "Ancestral Availability," the sprawling, gaseous "Holding Deckard's Hand," and acidic funky "Cosmic Vision," while born out of the same logical organic flow, sound more chaotic, like '70s fusion played in outer space. Similarly, cuts like "African Crowley," "Less Munitions," and "Neuro Quantum Adept" have a bombastically frenzied, hip-hop-meets-classical quality that sounds something like Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninov backed by the Gorillaz. Ultimately, the tracks on Prometheus Risen have both a familiarity and an abstract randomness, as if radio waves broadcast out into space have been echoed back to Earth by alien hands. ~ Matt Collar