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High Society by Peter Evans and Nate Wooley Duo

Electronic whiiiiiiiine! Clatter! Softer whiiine. Clopping of an uncoordinated, seven-legged pony. Screeech! Scrunch. Electronic drone. Yada, yada, yada. If that's your idea of either fun or how to extend the possibilities of trumpet playing, you'll love this album. Otherwise, for all but the most open minded-- or gullible-- this is noise. If you doubt my judgement, visit the Carrier Records site. It says, "We believe in noise."

The publicity release claims this noise is produced by two trumpet players. It's unlikely you'd guess that until track five when the first semi-traditional brass sound appears, a wah-wah trumpet that gradually wah wahs faster and with greater electronic distortion. Throughout the album the trumpet sounds initiated by the players are subjected to electronic tortures that cause them to buzz, thump, whine, hum and pulse. This is done with feedback from guitar amps. The result is that of a poorly-played electronic synthesizer. The perhaps intended effects, given an album cover of sprawled dead animals, are variously annoying, depressing or excruciating.

Trumpeters Peter Evans and Nate Wooley have exceptional and always adventurous chops, and in the past have shown that they know the jazz tradition. Watch them on YouTube if you doubt they can play. Are they serious here or playing a prank? This sort of session appears more often in the classical genre, and usually with serious intent. The safest statement for a critic who doesn't have a clue? "These are challenging new sounds that expand the scope of trumpet playing." That's an accurate statement, but a cop out because it isn't much of an evaluation. Add, "Other than the originators, few will find the new sounds exciting or amusing." You've nailed it.

Someone wanting to call this music could say it's a sonic Rorschach-test. "I," as it's affectionately titled, begins with a sound that could be a tea pot beginning to boil, then transitions to animals recently sawed in half, but not quite gone yet. And there's structure. The piece builds. Intensity increases. The arch structure is completed as dynamics soften and the tea pot returns.

"LXVIII" is an even more compelling story. A motorcycle approaches several sloppy, angry cows. Bees chase the cows into the motor cycle. One bovine dies peacefully as the motorcycle disappears. Hmmm. Maybe this is music.

Nah. Recommended to masochists, and those who really want to annoy spouses and neighbors. Note: my review copy had neither track listings nor badly needed explanatory notes. The same may be true of commercial copies.


Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Peter Evans/Nate Wooley Duo
  • CD Title: High Society
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2011
  • Record Label: Carrier Records
  • Musicians: Peter Evans (amplified trumpet), Nate Wooley (amplified trumpet)
  • Rating: One Star
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