For the first time, a compact version of Rob Mazurek's magisterial Exploding Star Orchestra – Exploding Star Orchestra/Small Unit – commits its music to CD. Recorded live at Corbett vs. Dempsey's Chicago gallery space in March, 2023, the six-piece band featured Mazurek on cornet, Tomeka Reid on cello, Damon Locks on voice and electronics, Angélica Sánchez on Wurlitzer, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass, and Chad Taylor on drums. Spectral Fiction consists of two tracks, the deeply exploratory "Equations of Love in Prismatic Waves of Color," clocking in at nearly 40-minutes, and the supergroovalistic 14-minutes of "Driftless" (a Mazurek-penned melody named after the Sam Gilliam exhibition in which the music took place and by which it was inspired). The musicians were already warmed up – really hot at this point – by a concert the night before, playing music from their great International Anthem LP Lightning Dreamers in the Sky Theater at Chicago's Adler Planetarium. With Locks's incantatory samples and momentum-staked poetry and Reid's incisive pizzicato and arco cello intonations, the band moves through a spectacular range of diverse colors and emotional zones, locking into rolling grooves and opening out onto fields of energy and sound. Often open and investigatory, it's a different side of Mazurek's vision from the eight previous Orchestra releases dating back to 2007, a lighter, more aerodynamic incarnation of the cosmic-conscious ensemble.
Rob Mazurek - trumpet, piccolo trumpet, bells, voice
Damon Locks - voice, electronics, text
Tomeka Reid - cello, electronics
Angelica Sanchez - Wurlitzer electric piano
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten - double bass
Chad Taylor - drums
All music by Exploding Star Orchestra/Small Unit OLHO (ASCAP).
Recorded by David Zuchowski March 25, 2023 at Corbett vs. Dempsey in conjunction with the exhibition Driftless by Sam Gilliam.
Mixed and mastered by Dave Zuchowski.
Cover painting: "Film" (2019) by Rob Mazurek. Photo by John Corbett. Cover design by David Khan-Giordano.