Paul Stranahan’s PSI
Paul Stranahan’s PSI finds the drummer in a rotating trio setting revisiting and trudging the path of the sometimes ethereal, sometimes aggressive modern jazz idiom.
With compatriots Jeremy Bleich (bass) and guitarists Chris Bober, Mike Barna and Jeff Charmek, the Insomnia ensemble blurs the line between composition and improvisation while seamlessly moving between consonant and dissonant textures.
The first half of the album supported by seven-string axe maestro Bober treads the textural territory blazed in the past by intellectual, introspective and at times aggressive guitarists like Bill Frisell, or David Torn on their earlier ECM releases. That said, it also shows some influence of modern cats like Ben Monder or Wayne Krantz.
Melodies on tracks like “Question Mark” and “Prescient” float around Stranahan’s gentle ride but on tracks like “Free Form Freak Out,” (which is more than just a clever title) and “Who Knows?” Barna and Charmek go from Hendrix styled jagged fuzzy madness to atonal avant garde madness. The closer “Cold And Distant” brings to mind some of the first Tony Williams’ Lifetime sound with its incessant drumming aggression and lilting melodies. As a drummer leading an ensemble with self-penned compositions he is occupying a mantle that few can approach.
As such, PSI is another step in the elevation in the drummer as an integral voice in modern improvised music and a very worthy listen.