Percussionist, vibraphone and marimba player Patricia Brennan’s Maquishti is a meditative and echoing album that feels right for a global pandemic. With space vibes mixed with more ancient-sounding riffs, I couldn’t help but feel as if I were afloat, outside of my body. The word “Maquishti” itself, Brennan tells us, means to liberate and free one’s self spiritually and mentally. And there is certainly a freedom of maneuvering around traditional melodic lines.
Many of these tracks were born out of improvisations, but they do not feel random. Like Keith Jarrett’s famed improvisational performances, they are always controlled and lead you to some soundscape that you were not quite expecting but happy enough to arrive upon. The fourth track, “Sonnet,” comes to mind as a good one to get into the album. There are sliding scales and glimmering tones. It is easy to get lost in the repetition and in the expression that exudes from the instrumentals marvelously handled by Brennan. Like an Eastern bellringer, there is a want of pure sound over a tune or mathematical order (as in a typical Sonata by Bach or Mozart).
Most of these 12 original instrumentals aren’t standout tracks on their own, necessarily. This is not a bad thing; she is merely exploring the possibilities of where these mallet percussion and vibraphone compositions can take her, and subsequently, take us. Most of the pieces have a familiar tone to them, yet the coherence and ability to move around on so many different notes and still make an album that doesn’t feel like a million ideas at once is wonderful. The simple pathways taken to explore different outcomes of producing sound is elegant and rather sophisticated. The patience of it must have taken to form these works is impressive in itself.
It is an impressive accomplishment to show off the unusual and intriguing sounds that her various instruments can produce as Brennan does on Maquishti. Though, I do look forward to hearing what she can do with more prominent melodies. It would be fascinating to see how Brennan tackles more traditional compositions (jazz standards, pop songs, and the like) and reworks them, the blend of self-composed and arrangements potentially vastly informative and innovative, especially on instruments that don’t get a lot of airtime. Maquishti, however, delivers a consistent and ear-catching effect on the listener, echoing in the space even after the speakers have ceased.
Label: Valley of Search
Born in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Konstantin Nicholas Rega currently attends East Anglia's famous MA in Creative Writing with the Ink, Sweat and Tears Scholarship. He is a professional musician, the former host/producer of Jazz Jams on CSRfm 97.4, and twice a Dan Veach Prize for Younger Poets finalist. He is the Fiction Editor for Crack the Spine and a contributor to The Black Lion Journal. He also blogs.