Somnambule - Writing About Music

Jay Roulston ~ Monkey Mind Control

The cover of the cd depicts four figures almost obliterated by light as if they’re witnessing a ufo landing or are themselves teleporting in from outer space. The image seems particularly appropriate given both the nature of the music and the Seattle-based quartet’s unheralded arrival. Roulston leads on trumpet, but allows plenty of room for his colleagues to establish moods, atmospheres and, occasionally, driving rhythms. ‘Cycles of Life’ begins mournfully as if lost in a wilderness as Beck Henderer-Pena’s guitar scrabbles around looking for signs of a way home and Roulston plays as if he gave up hope sometime ago. ‘I’m Gonna Get My Keys’ is an enjoyable thrash full of fuzz guitar and splashing cymbals which lasts all of 58 seconds. ‘Apparition’ traces out unsteady rhythms over a simple guitar figure haunted by banshee trumpet. Roulston’s playing is sometimes breathy, gentle and intimate while at other times it soars out across musical canyons like a large bird of prey on a warm updraught. For each track he assumes a different guise by using a variety of techniques and effects. The final track ‘Trilogy’ traces a succession of phases over its 14 minute length beginning in a scramble of noise and ending in near silence. Monkey Mind Control is a frequently sombre, almost melancholic, but continually exploratory album of electric jazz. It will be interesting to hear what Jay Roulston does next.
Colin Buttimer
February 2004
Published by Jazzwise magazine