Review: Mike Caratti + Rachel Musson + Steve Beresford – Hesitantly Pleasant

a3326344466_16The instruments are stacked on top of one another to form an anthropomorphic sculpture: bass drums and brush snares for bandy legs, piano keys stacked to form a spine that ripples and writhes, topped with a saxophone that’s like a head too big for the shoulders upon which it perches, swaying and shaking any time the body is made to stagger. As a collaborative unit these three improvisers form a clumsy beast. Incapable of walking straight, forever tripping on the earth and bumping into the walls, kept from stable rhythm and coherent melody by its own haphazard means of navigating the world; like someone stumbling down a corridor during a minor earthquake, comedic in dizzy gesture and ballet-esque skipped steps. The saxophone bleats in yelps of pain and surprise as yet another toe is stubbed on yet another obstacle. Piano and cymbals spill like precious ornaments knocked off a fireplace. Hesitantly Pleasant powers itself through a beautiful alternation of tumble and BANG, gathering accidental momentum for as long as it can roll unimpeded by protrusions and unexpected vertical surfaces.

Yet as individuals – considered as actors, as opposed to their theatrical character construction – the reflexes here are razor sharp. If I choose to treat “Still Horrible” as a dialogue rather than in its rickety totality, I can hear the grace (gasp!) with which Beresford and Musson weave in and out of eachother, dancing beneath Caratti’s waterfall of cymbal taps, trading places in frenzied do-si-do. When I closer examine “Complex Footwork And Violent Movement” (a thoroughly apt title), the splatters of erraticism reveal themselves to be tiny beads of mimicry and reflexive response, with the rhythms of piano keys immediately replayed on snare drum, which in turn provide little footholds off of which saxophone can catapult. Hesitantly Pleasant is both a drunken mess and a thoroughly lucid rapid-fire discussion, building an illusion of sloppy execution from constellations of rich, often cathartic snap-decision.