Radical Empathy Trio

Reality and Other Imaginary Places

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This album was recorded during Thollem's 2017 residency at Brooklyn-based multi-discipline mecca Pioneer Works. It's the second by Radical Empathy, which combines three uncategorizable improvisors. Michael Wimberly has been astonishing folks since his days in Charles Gayle bands and Steve Coleman & Five Elements in the early '90s, and has gone on become a composer and educator of note. Nels Cline has spent decades changing people's ideas about the role of the electric guitar in multiple contexts, ranging from Wilco to Anthony Braxton (think about that!) as well as many projects as a leader; this is his fourth album in trio with Thollem, and a fifth will follow next year, also on ESP. Thollem is a perpetually traveling pianist, keyboardist, composer, improviser, singer-songwriter, activist, author and teacher. He's spent most of his adult life living on the road throughout North America and Europe. His work is ever-changing, evolving and responding to the times and his experiences, both as a soloist and in collaboration with hundreds of artists across idioms and disciplines. Thollem's known internationally as an acoustic piano player in the free jazz and post-classical worlds, as the lead vocalist for the Italian agit-punk band Tsigoti and as an electronic keyboardist through a multitude of projects.

The heavy electronic sound of the first track, with its swathes of distortion, puts it very much in Noise territory, with Wimberly contributing coloristic accents and heavier flurries of rhythmic activity. After the twenty uncompromising minutes of "Collective Tunnels," for "Conscious Tunnels" Cline switches to a guitar tone John Abercrombie wouldn't shy away from and Thollem sits down at an acoustic piano (for a while) -- though their free improvisation is just as uncompromising. The timbres cease pacifying jazzers when blippy 1950s electronic sounds slinkily slither from the speakers. Then the piano comes back, but the guitar's tone gets dirty. Genre boundaries are crushed underfoot as the moods continue to vary wildly as "Conscious Tunnels" covers an amazing breadth of timbres and textures.

Personnel: Thollem McDonas, keyboards; Nels Cline, electric guitars; Michael Wimberly, drums. Recorded by Justin Frye at Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY Sept. 13, 2017.

Track Listing:

Side A/track 1: Collective Tunnels     18:29

Side B/track 2: Conscious Tunnels     18:30

Press Quotes:  

"Subtle alterations, treatments, processes. Relentless kinetic energy. Above all, an appreciation for how to find and hang on to your place in a narrative unfolding at speed. For the fact that structure is not what is imposed, but what is revealed." - Fred Frith (liner notes for the first Radical Empathy album, released on Relative Pitch in 2015)

"Church jams and death rays, soap operas and noir escapes, psychedelia and electrocutions -- no matter where the conversation turns, ...McDonas and... Cline are right on top of it. The tumbling, rattling drums of Michael Wimberly ...lend this improvising trio the feel of the '60s avant..." - Greg Burk, MetalJazz

"This moody and wonderful album...is an excellent example of three fellow travelers listening deeply to each other and creating an album of mesmerizing depth and texture." - Paul Acquaro, The Free Jazz Collective  

"Thollem is a bruising virtuoso who has deconstructed free music, classical, blues, electronic music, prog, noise, and everything in between." - Brad Cohan, Bandcamp

"Thollem might be a musician, or he might be some kind of wizard scientist...the experience might melt your mind." - The Denver Westword

"A true guitar polymath, Nels Cline has tackled everything from gothic country rock with the Geraldine Fibbers to a full remake of John Coletrane's late improvisational masterwork, Interstellar Space." - Rolling Stone, "Top 100 Guitarists"

"With a career starting in the late seventies and over 100 albums under his belt, Nels Cline is one of the most influential guitarists and composers today." - NPR


Musicians: Thollem McDonas / Nels Cline / Michael Wimberly

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