As the fourth release from drummer Alon Ilsar and guitarist Kyle Sanna, Migrations portrays a version of Ground Patrol nearing their apex. The record manifests the duo’s desire to perform swarming rhythms and stampeding beats, never standing still as they wander over great swathes of texture. Driven by pure improvisation, the record takes pays homage to Oren Ambarchi’s Hubris, Steve Reich, Surgeon and the Gnawa musicians of Morocco. The final product is sharp, clear and poignant – a journey within a journey as the intricacies of each shifting rhythm eloquently outline.
“Geophone was recorded in one day in a studio in New York, mostly unrestrained improvisations with minimal edits and no overdubs,” begins Ilsar.
“Similarly, Migrations was born at a recording session Kyle and I did together in March 2019 in Kyle’s home state of Oregon in the US. I was on my way to Atlanta from Sydney, while Kyle had a few days off from a West Coast tour. It was incredible to meet with him there and meet some of his old friends and see the Oregon landscape. We booked a beautiful studio, Gung-Ho, run by Billy Barnett. Incredible old gear - drums, mics, amps. A great sounding room for us to improvise in. And outside, deep white snow. It was one of the biggest snow storms the state had had in decades, and the power had been out in the studio for days before we got there. It all powered up just in time for us to play.”
Divided into three parts, each segment of Migrations captures its own distinct feeling. Part 1 captures Ground Patrol in a familiar form. Light guitar work, reverb and intensifying loops continue to build until the song buckles and collapses upon itself, only to start anew shortly after. Part 2 shifts from intensity toward melancholia. Almost orchestral in nature, the song falls gracefully as a feather, right before clean chords sweep it back into the sky once more. Part 3 simmers with intensity, the crisp plucks of Sanna’s guitar soaring over the surface of Ilsar’s thundering drums. The song cuts to silence after 25 minutes, yet the energy flowing through each part leaves a sense of lingering, as if no time had passed at all.
“We brought a simple concept to our improvisation of Migrations,” continues Ilsar. “On drums, I limited myself to two toms and a bass drum and restricted myself to playing in them in one order, each hit pushing ever so slowly against the one preceding it, speeding up until fading out and unveiling the starting tempo again at the end. On guitar, Kyle started with the low rumble of a single sampled guitar note, and slowly elevated and multiplied the pitch as more polyrhythmic loops emerged for us to play against. We kept it minimal, playing for 40min with several crescendos, knowing that our next task would be to improvise over this 40min journey right after the take. We only listened to the recording when we got back to New York a week or so later, and it sounded so good. A theme of migration emerged as we started shaping the improv to it.”
“From then it was Zoom meetings and sharing audio files to get the edit and mix just right. This is the result.”
The level of detail attached to Migrations is riddled in its form and flow, with its additional release content only adding to its transcendental nature. A slew of digital and interactive media supports the release, creating a feast for the senses. Rare footage from Ian Backer of natural imagery ties in perfectly to the music, while artist/programmer Jon McCormack informs the album’s artwork through generative evolutionary systems to create something natural but wholly digital, a paradox within tangibility yet between worlds. Finally, coinciding with the release, Ilsar has released a gestural iPhone app allowing motion trackers to discover loops within the music when a phone faces different directions.
released December 1, 2021
Kyle Sanna, guitar
Alon Ilsar, drums
Produced by Ground Patrol.
Recorded by Billy Barnett at Gung-Ho Studio, Eugene, OR, March 5, 2019.
Additional guitars recorded by Kyle Sanna at Summercamp Studios, Brooklyn, NY.
Mixed by Kyle Sanna at Summercamp Studios.
Mastered by Mat Leffler-Schulman at Mobtown Studios, Baltimore, MD.
I like the stylistic dialogue between this and Yamadori, which appear to me as an expansive study on contrasts, while Years Under Glass is like a subtle, nuanced etching examining harmony and balance, denser and more spiritually distinctive, and the album artwork captures that aptly. It's amazing how it plays with genre tropes, with an amount of this spontaneous, intuitive dynamics and rhythmic power most of the bands don't possess. Thank you for your art guys! Much love from Ukraine :) Terrence Falconer
I've been listenining this non stop since I discovered it. incredible musichanship and taste for harmonies. the tracks flow incredibly well but surprise you at every change. Love the rhythm fuckery that's going on, so inspiring. Gata Vrangr