Gordon Grdina, Mark Hellas, Matthew Shipp
I listen to a lot of music while commuting. I plugged Pathways into the car stereo at the beginning of my drive home the other day, and as I made my way across town, the sky opened up and a powerful thunderstorm erupted. Grey sheets of rain obscured the road and lightning flashes filled the sky. Pathways proved to be the perfect soundtrack to a violent summer storm.
Pathways begins calmly enough with the introspective “Palimpsest.” Grdina’s guitar picks out a gentle, abstract melody. Shipp’s piano sounds muted, yet ominous chords. It’s like the gentle showers that precede the storm. The sounds weave the abstract with the aggressive as we work our way though the set. By “Trimeter,” Shipp’s piano has come to the fore with jolting chords and runs. Grdina’s guitar comes at us with angular bursts of sound. It feels like the band is matching the intensity of the storm, with Shipp’s smashing chords on “Synapses” mirroring the ferocity of the downpour.
Of course, Pathways was not written as the soundtrack to a summer storm. No one else will have the same experience as the one I had driving across town in a scary, intense thunderstorm. On this late summer day, the music and the environment came together as if things were meant to be this way.