Lance Gurisik: Cull Portal review | John Lewis’s contemporary album of the month

(33 Side/Pias)
Gurisik’s startling album – think Aphex Twin meets Keith Jarrett – combines jazz, electronica and contemporary orchestral music to compelling, coherent effect

Cull Portal slowly mutates in various directions. Analogue synths burble; intense meditative improvisations develop on the piano; pastoral string sections fade in and grow more harmonically complex; wispy saxophones spray modal jazz riffs over coruscating digital drones; live drums and electronic breakbeats occasionally disrupt proceedings. Imagine Tangerine Dream, Keith Jarrett, Vaughan Williams and Aphex Twin all playing concurrently, but still managing to create a coherent and compelling composition.

Lance Gurisik is a conservatoire-trained Australian composer and occasional commercial jingle writer who has returned to Sydney after many years in London. Most of this LP was recorded in isolation, under lockdown, using a vintage Yamaha CS-80 analogue synth, an acoustic piano, and a remotely-recorded string ensemble. The centrepiece is an 18-minute triptych entitled Cull, where the same rising chord sequence is repeated across three tracks in very different ways – as a glistening babble of synths, as a Bill Evans-style piano improvisation, a Wayne Shorter-ish saxophone freakout, a densely written pastoral string arrangement and eventually a morass of squelchy synth and electric piano textures. The next three tracks – Portal, Limbo and Quanta – create a similar trilogy by repeating a hypnotic two-chord phrase, first as a clanking, discordant industrial electronic riot, then a series of shimmering ambient drones and eventually a funky broken-beat groove.

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