Calum Builder & Matt Choboter: Locusts And Honey

Canadian pianist and Australian saxophonist, both Copenhagen conservatory alumni, present nine eerie, reverb-rich explorations


Canadian pianist Matt Choboter has created a unique musical syntax which incorporates a variety of string preparations and live electronics. His recent solo Postcards Of Nostalgia was a surprisingly accessible bridge between free improvisation and the classical avant-garde, while his dreamy ensemble works typically lean more towards the jazz mainstream.

Australian saxophonist Calum Builder was a fellow post-grad student at Copenhagen’s Rhythmic Music Conservatory (RMC), his spartan aesthetic driven by what he describes as “post-religious spirituality”. Whether accompanied by pipe organ or chamber orchestra, his music can be uncommonly beautiful.

This remarkable lockdown duo was recorded in a Copenhagen church, and the nine tightly drawn improvisations are quite unlike anything I’ve heard. Choboter’s long solo introduction to the opening For Now I Know In Part is a brilliant exposition of his style, the delightfully disorienting sonorities part Balinese gamelan and part mechanical music box. Builder’s solo burns with phosphorescent intensity, distant echoes of Konitz and Desmond offering a bold take on classic traditions. Canary In The Coal Mine, meanwhile, hints at something more perilous, Builder flirting with atonality as a percussive Choboter jostles for space.

Sepia-tinged piano provides a striking juxtaposition to Builder’s harsh overtones on Honey, while the saxophonist’s piercing upper register gymnastics on Locusts recall Urs Leimgruber. Choboter is heard sans preparations on the waterfall-like Crossing On Akróasis, while Builder’s unaccompanied passages on Fervent Prayer bring to mind Jan Garbarek. The pianist tips a nod to composer Morton Feldman on the contemplative Hark!, while the jarring repetitions of Vessel eventually give way to more Builder’s sublime alto.

As exquisite as it is unusual, Locusts And Honey makes a lasting impression on both heart and mind.

For Now I Know In Part; Canary In The Coal Mine; Honey; Seven Lean Cows; Locusts; Crossing On Akróasis; Fervent Prayer; Hark!; Vessel (37.20)
Builder (as); Choboter (p). Copenhagen, 2020.
ILK Music ILK349