Get to Know "The Unknowable" (Now With Audio Track)

The first unknowable is the correct speed at which to play this oddly accessible 100% improvised double LP set of 13 spontaneous collaborations between saxophonist Dave Liebman and a pair of eclectic percussionists, Adam Rudolph and Tatsuya Nakatani. There's nothing written on the gatefold jacket or the labels indicating speed, but I'm pretty sure its 45rpm!

Liebman anchors the trio on tenor and soprano sax, flutes, recorder and on one track plays a Fender Rhodes, while Rudolph and Nakatani collectively add more than a dozen exotic percussive elements (not all at the same time, obviously!). Rudolph also creates some live electronic processing.

You're not going to get a play-by-play description from me, but I can tell you there's plenty of intriguing screeching, banging and high pitched droning that thanks to an exceptionally pristine and transparent recording can only be described as percussive ear candy. Each of the thirteen pieces is set in a unique and evocative environment reminiscent of jungles, mountain tops, Area 51, The Twilight Zone (especially the Fender Rhodes equipped closer), sacrifices to the Gods, Les Baxter on acid or the really "Emerald Forest".

Of course the musicians rightly take this far more seriously than it might appear do I (though don't be fooled by appearances) and the jacket notes (all about "process") are useful in understanding how improvised set pieces could possibly sound so organic and musically whole—not as in sounding written, but as in sounding logically constructed and somehow "planned out".

Each of the thirteen tracks takes you to a unique place where you'll hang out and "watch" (thanks to the hyper-three dimensional imaging) and just about touch the instruments spread across wide and deep soundstage expanses.

Even though the opening "Benediction" makes logical musical sense as an opener I recommend perhaps starting on side "C" with "The Turning", which has an immediately grababble bass beat accompanied by a snake charmer of an unidentified Duduk-like reed instrument. It's among the album's most subtle tracks. That's followed by Liebman's most "bop" sax playing on the album backed by Rudolph's staccato hand drums and some thunderous background bass percussion.

This record sonically has everything an audiophile might want in a demo record (despite missing Diana Krall and SRV): super imaging, transparency, bass extension, instrumental textures and intensely 3D soundstaging. When you want your late night listening to draw you in, intrigue you and take you to exotic places minus the earthquakes (well there are a few here), political uprisings and gang warfare, The Unknowable is the ticket! It's a persuasive, provocative percussion record, but without Enoch Light. Pressing quality was outstanding. Rare Noise has established itself as a highly adventurous audiophile label, even if it isn't one and more reviews from this label will follow in long order. Highly recommended!

Here's "Transmutations" composed by Adam Rudolph and Tatsuya Nakatoni:



MrGneiss's picture

Ooh, I like that track!! I think I'm gonna have to get this one!! :-D

Vinyl On Tubes's picture

So I think you are right about 45 rpm. Too lazy to time them though.