Kyle Brenders - Soprano Saxophone
Nicole Rampersaud - Trumpet
Johnathan Adejmian - Korg MS-20
Tilman Lewis - Cello
Aaron Lumley - Contra Bass
Brandon Valdiva - Percussion

It's no surprise that Ways may sound Braxton-esque, for Kyle Brenders, a Canadian saxophonist, has studied and appeared on numerous recordings with experimental jazz composer Anthony Braxton. Brenders' debut from March of this year melds modern electronic composition and stretched-out free jazz. For Brenders, composition is extremely sparse and off-pulsed. Creeping loud parts are so forward they seem omnipresent, but Brender's use of quiet/loud dynamics is markedly masterful.

The inaugural Section 2 serves to pace off the album from a distance. At first, the drumming marches in with distant tympani hits, but soon Brandon Valdiva's spritzing, varied fringe percussion takes hold. Stylistically reserved, it focuses more on rim clicks and cymbal rushes rather than accented hits or beats. Section 4 begins to take more shape as it evolves from off-pulse ideas into shades of humming from Brenders, trumpeter Nicole Rampersaud, and cellist Tilman Lewis. Here, Johnathan Adejman's Korg synth uses only pitches that dance between ranges of cello and contra bass of Aaron Lumley. As the sections expand and progress, they become more infused with jazz such as Section 5's episodic procedures through choppy solo sections. Each time one of the players takes the forefront, the backing four fall into a different, regimented melody. After the 13:30 mark, the track rolls into a layered, cresendoing conclusion. The album's longest track, Section 6, begins as whimsical and eerie making for some true minimalism, that is, conjuring up complete feelings and images by doing as little as possible. It moves along very slowly, with abrupt rises and slithering falling actions throughout. Album closer Section 8 is a study in the drone, providing a stark one-note procession and, for the first time, a continual, thunderous drum part.

The assembled sounds work of one another well. Brenders has directed each member of the sextet to engage in a study of ambiance, but it sounds at times like a harrowing experience. There is a noticeable loneliness in between rigid structures and timeless freedom, and Ways studies these intervals masterfully.


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