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  • Jonathan Widran

PAOLA PRESTINI & NELSON PATTON, Ancient City

With fantastical bios and resumes so rich and expansive that they merit outside the review links of their own (below), Italian born classical composer, multi-non-profit founder and serial collaborator Paola Prestini and the offbeat, genre-transcendent multi-instrumental duo Nelson Patton (Dave Nelson and Marlon Patton) make strange, ambient, out there and yet delightful and somehow perfectly in synch musical bedfellows on their fascinating dual project, Ancient City.


Designed as a “non-visual score,” the seven trippy, compelling pieces incorporate intricate cinematic foley effects amidst a soundscape fusing and peppering Nelson’s trombone, looper, electronics, improvisations and voice with Patton’s drums, percussion Moog bass, improvisations and electronics. Flowing like a free-form, trance-inducing shapeshifting meditation full of exciting sonic colors interrupted occasionally (to make sure we’re paying close attention!) by percussive horns, booming percussion and chaotic maelstroms of sonic detail, the album can be appreciated as a purely aural experience without any attachment to concept or narrative.


Yet as we journey from the haunting, foreboding ambiences of “Preparation” to the boisterous, atmospheric chant-filled exotic wonderland of “Transformation,” the trio provides a few interesting elements to enlighten the mysterious path. First there’s the weird ass cover photo of the threesome with scary stone masks of centuries old primitive cultures (presumably the guys with horns, Paola with droopy eyes and cat whiskers) and black outfits.


Then in the promotional materials, we learn this strangely shared musical tale is meant to depict a traveler’s sojourn from an ancient forest to a town square. The trip involves “Rites and Rituals” and discovering an artful balance “Between Beliefs and Laws,” an acknowledgement of “Ancestral Winds” and a nod to the “Rites of Migration,” all culmination in the dramatic crossover to “Other Realms” – an epic ten minute blast of liquid-y, ambient avant-garde energy imbued with the lyrical, seductive pull of guest Stuart Bogie’s clarinet coolness.         



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