By John Murph | Published November 2020
Forgoing orthodox concepts about jazz and EDM is crucial to one’s enjoyment of Compass Confusion, the latest installment of Junk Magic’s fascinating if insolent music. Led by ace sonic explorer Craig Taborn, the combo engages in spontaneous sound sculpting that places premiums on textual ingenuity, spatial awareness and vigorous interactive dialogue. Oftentimes, instruments such as Chris Speed’s saxophone or Taborn’s piano don’t sound like they would if deployed in conventional jazz settings; nor does the music bump along steadily—a hallmark of electronica.
The commotion opens with “Laser Beaming Hearts,” as a shimmering dissonant chord slowly rises, then gives way to a disquieting melodic motif that sounds like some futuristic emergency alarm. David King’s thumping drums, Taborn’s edgy keyboard riff and Erik Fratzke’s economical bass shape the song that eventually evolves into an agitated electro groove. “The Science Of Why Devils Smell Like Sulfur” is one of the album’s most elaborate designs, beginning with a thundering motif that dissipates into spacious free-form improvisation, growing more menacing and plunging into cacophony. Even for fans of jazz and EDM, Compass Confusion takes patience and courage to behold its hermetic suspense.
Compass Confusion: Laser Beaming Hearts; Dream And Guess; Compass Confusion/Little Love Gods; The Science Of Why Devils Smell Like Sulfur; The Night Land; Sargasso; Sunsets Forever. (50:39)
Personnel: Craig Taborn, keyboards; Chris Speed, saxophone; Mat Maneri, viola; Erik Fratzke, bass; David King, drums.