Montreal-based trumpeter Nigel Taylor, previously a Boston resident while studying at the New England Conservatory, is known in both Boston and Canadian experimental music circles for taking part in a very specialized corner of trumpet practice pioneered by such trumpet luminaries as Greg Kelley and Nate Wooley, which draws equal influence from European free improvisation, so- called “noise” music, lowercase music and avant-garde composition. On this LP on the Electricity is Magic label, called Dictionary of Symbols, Taylor provides a highly focused example of his interpretation of current experimental trumpet improvisation and composition.
The first side, a piece called “Trecartin” named after the artist and filmmaker Ryan Trecartin, is a live recording for solo acoustic trumpet, and is like Trecartin’s work in that it is quite saturated with sensory information. Ranging from snaky, atonal lines, to virtuosic displays of technique, to yet more virtuosic abstract gestures generated by extended techniques, this piece is quite an impressive display of Taylor’s command of the trumpet, yet is an incredibly complete and rich piece of music. At several points, there are textures that one would be hard-pressed to associate with the trumpet if the listener didn’t know any better, and it would be certainly be accurate to assume that the influence of improvisational electronic musicians makes its way into Taylor’s playing. The second side, titled “sevens” is self-described as music without a film for trumpets and no-input mixer. This piece takes on a different kind of sonic palette as the last side, using overdubbed trumpets to make complex and dissonant harmonies that phase in and out as trumpets enter and exit the fold. The use of the no-input mixer is subtle, yet provides moments of pulsating low electronic oscillation at the exact opportune moments. Parts of this are reminiscent of the work of composer György Ligeti in the way that the textures and harmonies evolve, which is quite an impressive feat considering this was cut with a man, his trumpet and a mixer. Amazing music: certainly not to be slept on.