AMERICAN THICKET – OUT NOW on Loyal Label
by Eliot Cardinaux
Photo by Michelle Arcila Opsvik
RE-EMERGING PIANIST, POET AND COMPOSER ELIOT CARDINAUX OFFERS UP AMERICAN THICKET, HIS DEBUT ALBUM AS A LEADER ON LOYAL LABEL, A HAUNTING RIFLE THROUGH THE UNDERGROWTH OF AMERICAN RURAL CULTURE IN TENSILE IMPROVISATIONS AND VERSE
Official Release Date: July 8th 2016
Video credits can be seen at the bottom of this post.
A steadily working pianist emerging on the New York scene in the early 2000s, playing in bands led by Pete Robbins, Tyshawn Sorey, and David Binney, in 2008 Eliot Cardinaux took his life out to the rural towns of Western Massachusetts to take a hiatus from performance. There he began an earnest focus on poetry which has led him to the release of his debut album as a leader, American Thicket, on Loyal Label. His seemingly solitary life outside the city has led Cardinaux to sounds derived more often from the surrealistic language of Russian poet Osip Mandelstam than from musicians on the leading edge of today’s New York scene.
The album, however, features the woozy, microtonal musings of violist Mat Maneri (Joe Maneri, Lucian Ban, Paul Motian), the heartfelt humor, humility and simplicity of bassist Thomas Morgan (Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Masabumi Kikuchi), and the intricate, soulfully supportive drumming of percussionist Flin van Hemmen (Tony Malaby, Eivind Opsvik), all of them New Yorkers. Cardinaux himself weaves melodies and harmonies on piano through a thicket of juxtaposed imagistic words spoken from his first two collections of poetry, The Virgin Clock and Leaning Against the Mystery.
American Thicket derives its title from the subtly interwoven brambles of the culture which teased it out under Cardinaux’s watchful gaze. Influenced by poets and writers across the last century (James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk; Yusef Komunyakaa, Thieves of Paradise; Thomas Tranströmer, The Great Enigma; Mahmoud Darwish, The Stranger’s Bed), Cardinaux has created a steadily unfolding work of poetic instants that sway with an overarching sense of revelation carried through each passing “act” or “scene” of the album of a whole, much like the drama of a stage play.
In the opening track “Thicket,” melodies work their ways through the lines of poetry like creatures clawing through the branches of an unknown forest – or a city; one is never certain which is safe, which might grab some unspoken secret from the listener, reaching from behind the trees.
The fourth track, “Angel,” is a mischievous prose poem accompanied by the off-kilter swing between Morgan and Maneri’s pizzicatto, pushed by van Hemmen into the tasteful delight of the blues.
After “Conspiring Psychic,” a long-form, coloristic tone poem with a dying fall, a hidden track appears on the album, titled “Curtain Call.” It serves as a prelude to the final track, which is a self-annihilating character sketch of a “punk called rose,” entitled “Radio Dues,” closing out the album like an epitaph.
American Thicket is released on CD and as a download
Record release show at Spectrum: 121 Ludlow St. NYC, on June 17th 2016.
Eliot Cardinaux – piano, composition on Omnipotent Dreamer; voice, and poetry on EPK and The Stranger’s Song; piano, voice, and poetry on Angel and Conspiring Psychic
Mat Maneri – viola
Thomas Morgan – bass
Flin van Hemmen – drums, percussion, cymbals
Video on Angel shot by Jade Wollin and Eliot Cardinaux. “Stairwell” intro to Conspiring Psychic shot by Jade Wollin. All other video shot and edited by Eliot Cardinaux. All music by American Thicket (Eliot Cardinaux, Mat Maneri, Thomas Morgan, Flin van Hemmen). Composition “Omnipotent Dreamer” by Eliot Cardinaux. Poems “The Bridge” (EPK/The Stranger’s Song), “Angel,” (Angel) “Looking glass,” “Conspiring Psychic (or a secret’s bones),” and “Things in a brick wall” (Conspiring Psychic) written by Eliot Cardinaux.
Music recorded and engineered by Tom Tedesco at Tedesco Studios
Mixed by Eivind Opsvik at Brooklyn Underground
Produced by Eliot Cardinaux
Mastered by Nate Wood
Released on Loyal Label
All Rights Reserved, 2016