Pianist, poet, composer, and improviser Eliot Cardinaux has recently put forth his third solo venture — Treebones and Riddlepieces: a collage of vignettes of verse, snippets of processed improvisation, found sounds, and objects manipulated sonically in ways uncommon to the field of acoustic improvised music and/or jazz — paper-clips, pill bottles, felt bags filled with cherry pits, and fizzing plops of close-mic’d seltzer water — all of them surrounding the poet’s voice in a cerebral soundscape that is both haunting and haunted, self-referential and far-reaching.
The poet, or should I say author, has penned a book that spans the breadth of the sonic collection, also entitled Treebones and Riddlepieces. The book’s epigram, a quote from Radiohead vocalist Thom Yorke’s latest solo release, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, reads simply:
“Do you think your mind blows up?”
A sentiment akin to the way in which he taunts you with his jiving grin, his masochistic, self-inflicted laugh, that could be perceived as both a testament to the strength of the author’s character and also keep him on the verge of something sinister. We can only wonder, “is he going to make it out alive?”
The album ends with a pastiche of verses from the third and final section of the book, appropriately titled “The Least.” It seems the least he can do, following the viciously raucous and undying admissions and confessions of the previous track, “Archeology,” a reference to the live group who performs these poems, digging them out of the “Sandbox” (a musical collective of traveling artists based in different cities across the Northeast, from Montreal to Philadelphia, New York, and Boston where the artist himself resides). Two of Sandbox’s other members, Daniel Pencer (tenor sax), and Isaac Luxon (guitar) are featured, not only on “Archeology,” but on the opener, an adaptation of a text piece by Karlheinz Stockhausen: “Connections,” as well as the second track, “Yellow,” based on a poem of Cardinaux’s entitled “Awake.”
The rest of the album is much more processed, composed, and of a seemingly different vein than any of Cardinaux’s previous work. In “Three,” three characters are presented, juxtaposed, and linked or “threaded” by an array of sonically manipulated objects and the sounds that he draws from them — the characters are wide-ranging, from a train-announcer-speaking-gibberish, to a down-and-out, voiceless-mechanic-of-sound-and-space.
Eliot Cardinaux – piano, voice, objects, poetry, compositions, production
Daniel Pencer – tenor saxophone (tracks 1, 2, and 7)
Isaac Luxon – archtop guitar (tracks 1, 2, and 7)