Restroy is Responsible for the Milk Factory Productions of 'Saturn Return' [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt on Jun 02, 2016 03:45 PM EDT
Restroy Bassist Chris Dammann of Restroy (Photo : courtesy of Restroy)

Restroy is a 10-headed monster of epic proportions. Their Saturn Return (Milk Factory Productions) is an exquisite trip through modernistic experimentation that always seems to gel and come out on top. Nothing goes awry. Recorded in Chicago and Virginia, it features players from both geographical locales. Call it pop-chamber music.

The tabla of Loren Oppenheimer is a recurring theme in and of itself. His studies with Pandit Divyang Vakil have paid off. Vakil, an Indian classical tabla master, philosopher, guru and composer, has taught his subject well. He's a dynamo and his sound is delicious. So is the sound of James Davis on trumpet and Catherine Monnes on cello and violin. Throw in electronics, percussion, bass, tenor sax, guitar, flute and drums and you have, indeed, the sound of Saturn Return.

Bassist Chris Dammann wrote seven of eight and he has an ear for the odd. His previous combo, The 3 5 7 Ensemble, was all over the map. Restroy is confined within small spaces yet within that, it wiggles with a controlled energy that confounds yet mightily entertains.

You may not be able to eat "11 Eggrolls" but you sure can listen to it in all its 5:20 glory (you can dig it right now below). It's only one of eight highlights, yes, every track is a highlight. Between "Skin" and "Uma," "Waiting" and "Twenty-Seven," the music is surprising, syncopated, unusual yet accessible. Grounded in pop, so is it jazz? Sure! There's even a minimalistic classical strain at work (despite 10 pieces, there are no big-band contrivances). And don't let the minimalistic ethos scare you away. This is not wallpaper music. Hardly ambient, it certainly doesn't just lay there. There's a kinetic aspect to it all in which one can lose one's self in surrendering to its charms (there's certainly plenty of Restroy charm to go around). So surrender! Plus, it's all rather endearing, working, as it does, both as foreground music if you crank this sucker up loud. I bet your neighbors love it! Or, if you have guests over and really want to impress them with your esoteric tastes in music, have it floating unobtrusively in the air like a scent. Either way, this one's a winner. Looking forward to more.

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TagsRestroy, Milk Factory Productions, REVIEW, Chris Dammann

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