Matt Borghi and Michael Teager:
Convocation is a collection of pieces for saxophone and guitar—which naturally suggests that the sixty-three-minute recording will feature duets of a jazz-styled nature. But while the release did develop out of a series of improvisations laid down in the spring of 2012, guitarist Matt Borghi and saxophonist Michael Teager have fashioned a wonderful ambient-styled recording that distinguishes itself dramatically from others in the genre. Of course, it's easy to imagine the guitar being used as a textural device, what with all of the effects and gear available to the experimental guitarist, but it's less common to hear saxophone being used in like manner.
Borghi and Teager blend their sounds seamlessly, an effect no doubt borne out of the fact that the recording arrives after a half-decade of working together. Borghi opts for more of a supporting role in filling the background with painterly washes and strums that the tenor and soprano saxophonist is then free to emote against, although an occasional guitar solo emerges, too (the bluesy playing that appears halfway through “Precipice” a case in point). Teager's playing at times invites comparison to Jan Garbarek in the way Teager embraces an atmospheric style that complements the ambient dimension of the recording. Yet while his delicate and feathery flutter does lean toward the more restrained side, there are also moments when he plays with more aggressiveness. Even so, the music's overall character is sonorous and serenading, and consequently the material more soothes than agitates the weary soul.
In keeping with the meditative tone, the album's five settings are long-form, with the shortest eight minutes and the longest sixteen. There is an appropriately stately quality to the opening title track, specifically in the blurry guitar chords that introduce the piece, as well as the beautiful closer “Discern Descent.” Their moods are generally plaintive, and a palpable feeling of melancholy, even sadness pervades both. A similar time-suspended quality attends the other settings, especially “Constant Apex,” where Teager's flutter appears amidst a glowing mass of slow drift.Borghi generates such dense, effects-altered backdrops, his playing starts to take on the aura of synthesizer-produced sounds rather than any associated with a six-string. Remove the saxophone from “Nebula Divide,” for instance, and you'd be left with an ethereal ambient setting of the kind one could imagine featured on a Hypnos Sounds release. On average, press releases tend toward the hyperbolic, but in this case the statement that “(s)axophone and ambient music have never sounded like this” turns out to be no exaggeration at all.