Temporarily putting aside her notated work, multi-instrumentalist Allison Cameron teams up with fellow improvisers trumpeter Nicole Rampersaud and percussionist Germaine Liu for a program of eleven instant compositions that play to each trio member’s strengths, cementing a group identity. Sophisticated in her use of rhythm displacement, the drummer still keeps a thumping continuum going, while the trumpeter’s ability to segue from aggressive gargling to yearning grace notes and beyond provides perfect foils to the textures emanating from Cameron’s instrumental collection, which sometimes sound as if a kitchen drawer filled with cooking utensils and a workshop bench stacked with mechanical implements are igniting at the same time.
Cameron’s strategies often demonstrate the distinctive timbres that result from Derek Bailey-styled string scratching and clanging applied to a banjo or guitar. On “Pew Pew Pew” and elswhere, the variations from her electric piano give off ecclesiastical pulses to further amplify the Salvation Army-like strength of Liu’s bass-drum whacks and Rampersaud’s high-pitched blasts. Overall, the prime instance of group interaction is on the ironically titled “Romantic Evening.” Liu establishes and then deconstructs the cadences by varying her hand rubs with what sounds like balls bouncing on drum tops, while brass noises are made more jarring by linking them to clanging banjo frails. Atonality isn’t c_RL’s only attribute, as “A Little Dancing” demonstrates: a moderate trumpet tone and smoothing percussion-pats convey melodic sentiments with not a string snap to be heard. The players also demonstrate an absurdist sense of humour. The concluding “All Is On” is a collection of slide-whistle-like toots and percussion crashes that contrast with the breezy passion emanating from a scratchy recorded rendition of a Bossa Nova heard in the background. If there’s a downside to Friends, it’s only that it’s taken so long to release it, the disc having been recorded in early 2012.