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Review: 'Tantric Doctors'
'The House On Ensenada Drive'   

-  Label: 'Focused Silence'
-  Genre: 'Post-Rock' -  Release Date: '27th October 2017'

Our Rating:
Adam Woolf is the man who hides behind the pseudonym of Tantric Doctors. ‘The House On Ensenada Drive’ is his eighth album on the Harrogate-based label Focused Silence.

According to the press release, ‘the record is a blustery live summit capturing the provocative proclivity of Tantric Doctors during an incendiary period in Adam’s career. A more subdued set than his previous offerings, Tantric Doctors ekes out an intriguing suite of minimalist / maximalist musings. Tantric Doctors claims this album is a tribute to the house in which Trout Mask Replica was created: rather than a tribute to that album, which would be impossible and ludicrous. So, it’s like an anti-real-estate agent’s pitch. As well as a physical house, it refers to the musical house: Monk, Ornette Coleman & 20th Century Avant Garde Music in general.’

And yes, it’s all in there, and there’s a lot going on. Rolling piano, by turns serious, by turns playful, is the signature of ‘The House On Ensenada Drive’. The experimental tendencies are restrained, and the result is a delicate, poised, and elegant work that’s also given to less predictable moments, exploiting elements of discord and subtle shifts that disrupt the flow and confound formal expectation.

It’s at the album’s midway point, on ‘Part 4’, that things turn ugly, with screeding electronic feedback screaming at a range of tonalities over woozy fear chords. It’s a brain-shredding two minutes that marks something of a turning point in the shape of the album, with ‘Part 5’ continuing the discordant trajectory. The atonal avant-jazz – like five musicians playing slightly variant versions of the same score while in different rooms – makes for a disorientating listen, and I’m reminded of the first (and only) time I heard ‘Trout Mask Replica’, and my reaction to it. It turns out that while I have a fairly strong stomach, there’s only so much chaotic noodling I can handle. It’s all a matter of taste, of course, and objectively, the technicality, the passion, and the desire to challenge conventional structures are all worthy of the utmost admiration. I just don’t need to hear it, is all.

The nifty piano groove of ‘Part 6’ and the strolling bass and more conventional, if still key-ranging brass of ‘Part 7’ round off the album in a more overtly musical fashion.
  author: Christopher Nosnibor

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Tantric Doctors - The House On Ensenada Drive