Edward Vesala/Sound & Fury: Invisible Storm (ECM 1461)

Edward Vesala
Sound & Fury
Invisible Storm

Jorma Tapio alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flute, percussion, bass flute
Jouni Kannisto tenor saxophone, flute
Pepa Päivinen tenor, baritone and soprano saxophones, flute, alto flute
Matti Riikonen trumpet
Iro Haarla piano, harp, keyboards
Jimi Sumen guitar
Edward Vesala drums, percussion
Marko Ylönen cello
Recorded May/June 1991 at Sound & Fury Studios, Helsinki
Engineer: Jimi Sumen
Produced by Manfred Eicher and Edward Vesala

The late drummer and musical visionary Edward Vesala was a strange bird. As one of the few whose records became less accessible the more composed they were, he marked his path by leaving not breadcrumbs but entire loaves, piping hot and ready to serve. His was a fresh sound, a living sound that, as the moniker of his ensemble implies, thrived also on the richness of fury.

Invisible Storm is a suite of sorts. I see it as existing in two diurnal parts, though the split and its nature, assuming any, may rightly lie elsewhere for every listener. The first half opens the album’s daytime musings, shooting its eyes wide open from the start with the guttural menagerie of “Sheets and Shrouds” before a lachrymose violin and soprano sax woo us in “Murmuring Morning.” Next is “Gordion’s Flashes,” which lays a pleasant tangle of horns and electric guitar over an infectious savannah beat from Vesala, who further shows an aptitude for color as he adds samples of jackhammer and other mundane sounds from an eyedropper filled with chants and stale rituals. Harpist Iro Haarla threads gentler promises throughout “Shadows on the Frontier,” only to have them taken away by children smelling of patchouli and innocent observation. It is they who weave the set’s most masterful narrative, a cinematic flipbook of ghost towns and gravelly dreams that unfolds with the grace of a Philip Glass opera scarred by backstage secrets.

Which brings us to “In the Gate of Another Gate,” a transitory palindrome that opens us to the courtyard of “Somnamblues.” The latter is a ponderous matrix of distortion and metallic whispers that plunges us into the album’s nighttime anxieties. “Sarastus” lumbers through its porous moods riding the back of a roller rink organ, while “The Wedding of all Essential Parts” and the title track offer even more ponderous reflections, given shape by Haarla’s needlework and Vesala’s snare. Reprieve comes in “The Haze of the Frost,” a chain of snow owl talon-prints, rendered by flutes alone, which unearths a slab of mockery in the concluding “Caccaroo Boohoo.”

Because nearly every moment of Invisible Storm (with the possible exceptions of Vesala’s constant hitting and some of the reed work) feels carefully written out, one is confronted with the fullness of his philosophy. In the less straightforward projects like Nan Madol we encounter a sound-world so extraterrestrial that we cannot help surrendering ourselves to its rules. Here, however, Vesala draws much from personal, earthly experiences, choosing from a shoebox filled with hard-won postcards. For this reason, I recommend giving the earlier out-to-lunchers a taste test before downing this fiber-rich brew.

<< Veljo Tormis: Forgotten Peoples (ECM 1459/60 NS)
>> Ralph Towner: Open Letter (ECM 1462)

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