Ratchet Orchestra Hemlock

Ratchet OrchestraHemlock
Murky, mysterious, cheeky, luminous, folksy, spacey and compellingly creative, the 30-member Ratchet Orchestra cover a dizzying amount of musical territory. Composer/bassist Nicolas Caloia has brought together the crème de la crème of the Montreal creative music scene, and he clearly relishes how much breadth of expression he can muster from their ranks. Pastoral plunking gives way to a Zappa-esque bass clarinet melody, with piquant piccolo adding astringent bite, in the long-form "Dusty." It veers into free improv guitar shredding abstraction, ceding to bass sax throb, vinegary woodwind chords and an inescapable pulse, making for compelling listening. Opener "Winnow," on the other hand, has echoes of Gil Evans' arrangement of Kurt Weill's "Bilbao Song," with tangy soprano sax by Chris Cauley and buttery trombone, courtesy of the always-eloquent Tom Walsh. Caloia writes music that's dense, intense, sparse, peaceful, playful, big and small, with 30 flavourful instrumental ingredients. This is richly rewarding, imaginative and compellingly expressive. (Drip Audio)