[Soul on Rice,]

California based trumpeter/freelancer Tom Djll has spent the last couple of decades using his trumpet to make sounds that are not generally associated with his instrument. Having collaborated with figures such as Jon Raskin, Eugene Chadbourne, Fred Frith, Pauline Oliveros and The Splatter Trio has given him some amount of bragging rights. His recently re-activated Soul on Rice imprint has just brought out a few tasty morsels to the forefront to remind us of the cunning musical prowess of this man.
"Bellerophone" is an exercise in solo trumpet sounds. From the austere, to the uplifting, through the murky and the morose, Djll is not afraid to explore every nook and cranny of his trumpet. When he wails, it's pure joy but when he slows the pace down, it's pure lethargy. I can't get enough of his minimal slurs, his awkward guffaws and those little, trinkets he throws in for good measure. I swear there are moments, when he resembles a scared mouse begging for mercy from a cat that's ready to pounce. If you move forward, he's a one-man orchestra, playing a barrage of densely coloured blasts. It's this unpredictability that most moves me. If you consider this a study of possibilities of the trumpet or simply a great solo record, there's no disappointment in sight.
If "Bellerophone" is unaccompanied, pure sounds of the trumpet, then "Smudge" is its evil brother. Adding to the trumpet, this time around Djll processes his instrument digitally. Additionally, he adds an analog synthesizer to make the sounds seem more bleak. "Flake" features what sounds like some sort of video-game warfare being fought between a muted trumpet and an analog synth. Throughout "Exfoliate", Djll goes all out and forces his trumpet to sound like a herd of birds, accompanied by a maddening chorus of wicked organ whooshes. Further on the record, we're greeted by low-flying, repetitive hollow wind sounds, interspersed with further glistening chirps and crackles. Alternating between the frightening sounds of low-key electronics, through to overbearingly processed trumpet, this is where electronics and acoustics come together in perfect harmony to give us a sense of marital bliss.
A number of years ago, Djll came up with an instrument he calls the Simulated Frankenstein Muting and Tooting Unit, Frankenstein-Simulator Trumpet, Frankentrumpet Mutootator Stimulator, Trumpetstein Mutocaster Simulooter, Trumpeter Sampulator Thing or Mutootilator for short. The record of the same name revolves around 20 separate duos with various creative improvisers, mostly from the West Coast - Tom Nunn, Jack Wright, Myles Boisen, Ron Anderson, William Winant, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Doug Carroll and numerous others. Djll's trumpet [or machine or Mutootator] is an organic thing. Its varied sounds are caressing, disturbing, aggressive, shaking, reverberating, impulsive and mostly expressive. From Myles Boisen's eclectic guitar work, through Doug Carroll's amplified cello bits, to Ed Herrmann's wildly descriptive electronics, Djll sounds like he's best suited with any combination of these players. Not a weak piece in the batch - each being space-time continuum different from its predecessor. If you need a blunt recommendation, in my busy schedule I still find time to give these records repetitive spins each time I pick them up off the shelf.

- Tom Sekowski

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