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Payton MacDonald, Billy Martin, Elliott Sharp & Colin Stetson - Void Patrol (Infrequent Seams)

15 June 2022

All lockdown and no creativity makes artists dull children, so it’s no surprise so many projects developed during the height of the pandemic have been sneaking out of late. Void Patrol combines the talents of saxophonist Colin Stetson, guitarist/electronicist Elliott Sharp and Medeski Martin & Wood drummer Billy Martin, at the behest of Alarm Will Sound percussionist Payton MacDonald, each adding their improvisations separately for MacDonald to arrange and mix. All of these musicians have a reputation for envelope pushing as well as laying in the pocket, so it’s no surprise that the five songs here navigate space between those extremes. Stetson provides undercurrents of bass and baritone sax drones as often lead lines, Martin switches between grounding rhythms and excursions around, over and under the groove, Sharp throws in all manner of electronic gurgles, odd noises and unidentifiable sounds, and MacDonald lets his marimba roam around in the amalgam. Somewhere between ambient music and free jazz, “Sirius,” “Acrux” and “Rigel” explore dimensions outside the one in which the players reside, creating something wholly other from their reality-based contributions. Void Patrol is likely a one-off, but it’s intriguing and imaginative enough to hope for further treks into the unknown.