By Alexa Peters | Published August 2020
Satellite Quartet, the latest release from Brooklyn’s Eva Novoa, is, first and foremost, aptly named. After all, the project is really out-there, even for someone who already has established herself as one of the more surprising pianist-composers on the scene.
A recording about “seeking new worlds of expression,” Satellite is manically innovative, reaching past the furthest limits of imagination, but sometimes overly so. While some magnificently creative improvisations are offered up, they often ring random and hollow. We’re meandering for meandering’s sake, with very few collective resolutions or points of understanding to provide a tether to tradition. That said, there are some shining moments of connection: “Satellite Earth” is the strongest song here, offering an incisive straight-eighth melody that stair-steps over a jazz-funk groove and angular chord pattern. Novoa and company eventually proceed to deconstruct the familiar patterns and reconstruct something new from the leftover parts. It lands brilliantly, because listeners were privy to the process.
Still, Satellite as a whole is stubbornly open-ended. Fans of deeply “out” music likely will enjoy “Inefficient 39T” and its intoxicating on-edge quality. But for listeners who appreciate a nod to the familiar, Satellite could present as a shock of directionless electricity.
Satellite Quartet: Three Nine Turner; Interim Song; Inefficient 39T; Satellite Earth; Big Moose Road; 203. (51:04)
Personnel: Eva Novoa, piano; Rainer Davies, guitar; Kenneth Jimenez, bass; Arturo Garcia, drums.