Brandon Ross: Of Sight And Sound

The dense, somewhat raucous music on guitarist Ross's latest set was directed by the painting of blindfolded, neo-symbolic artist Fred Crull


This recording commemorates a collaboration between Ross’s ensemble, Pendulum, and painter Ford Crull, who is apparently classified as a Neo Symbolic Abstract artist.

For those, like me, heretofore uninformed about the genre, Wikipedia describes it as invoking “a world in which technology and the industrial reality have not yet drowned the forces of mysticism and belief . . . the imagery is necessarily representational rather than abstract [and] borders on the narrative.”

Crull heard Pendulum in 2015 in New York City and thought they sounded like what he imagined Jimi Hendrix’s music would have evolved into. His guess is as good as mine, but I’m not convinced on that point. There are, however, echoes from the broad electronic music tradition.

Much of the playing is dense and a little raucous, but some of the more serene passages tantalisingly suggest a graceful fusion of Bill Frisell and a glass harmonica, especially on the title track, whilst Black Illuminations settles into a pleasingly funky groove.

Crull’s collaboration with Ross and his colleagues involved him being blindfolded and painting on a 25-by-6-foot expanse of white paper, and the band used his work-in-progress as a graphic score. The musicians each developed individual simultaneous interpretations, which reciprocally influenced Crull’s process in real time.

Alongside this recording the performance was filmed for a documentary. I haven’t seen that but I assume it helps to clarify the musical process, if such clarification is wanted. For me, however, the music is an absorbing experience in its own right. 

TOIL (parts 1–3); First Yellow Icon; A Bed of Red Dreams; Black Prelude; Black Illumination; Of Sight And Sound (49.20)
Ross (elg); Kevin Ross (elb); Chris Eddleton (d); Hardedge (sound-design); Chris Eddleton (d); Ford Crull (painting). Glass Gallery, Jersey City, New Jersey, 9 June 2019.
Sunnyside Records SSC 1682