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Julian Arguelles Inner Voices Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Playfully inventive and richly rewarding.

Colin Buttimer 2009

Inner Voices is the playfully inventive and richly rewarding product of one man's loneliness in a foreign country and the multi-track recording capabilities of modern computers. Argüelles, one of the UK's leading saxophonists, recorded the album in the gaps between playing with the HR Big Band in Frankfurt.

All of the music on Inner Voices was performed solely by Argüelles. Add the number of instruments together and you'd get a small orchestra: four different types of saxophone, flutes, clarinets, prepared piano, voice and more. Saxophones were hit and scraped to create sounds that were then looped and treated digitally to create percussive accompaniment. The emphasis is on the foreground action with rhythmic elements fulfilling a more functional, supportive role.

On other pieces such as Lisboa, Argüelles' tone is more mournful and cinematic, evoking images of that city's dimly lit, narrow streets. In contrast, the likes of Ghana and Disatease are warm and welcoming as if they were recorded in sunnier climes. Beginning his career in the '80s with UK big band Loose Tubes, Julian Argüelles has since played with a wide range of players including Tim Berne, Hermeto Pascoal, Jim Black, Kenny Wheeler and Carla Bley.

The composer clearly had fun with the solo approach: Dialogue is an angular affair reminiscent of a small flock of startled geese, Conversation begins like an Andean pan-pipe festival let loose in a Steve Reich concert while Monologue displays breathily good-natured intimacy. None of these pieces is more than three minutes long, but each composition is jewel-like in its structure.

It's a remarkably varied set that succeeds in assembling influences from Schoenberg to Dollar Brand into a convincingly coherent whole. Much of the album's success is attributable to Argüelles' strong sense of melody and the range of feelings he explores.

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