The new release from renowned Italian composer Louis Siciliano, Ancient Cosmic Truth, continues illustrating the immense talents of this visionary musician and songwriter. He has put together an exceptional group of musicians to flesh out his ambitions including trumpet player Randy Brecker, percussionist Alex Acuna, tenor saxophonist Umberto Muselli, and drummer Claudio Romano to help make this possible. These stellar musicians obviously honed the material to fine edge before committing it to tape, but there can be little question that they share similar views on music’s possibilities after listening to this memorable four track release.
“Bambara’s Symmetries” announces Siciliano’s intentions without a doubt. He’s written concise, focused compositions for the EP and this is the tightest of them all. Running less than four minutes long, Siciliano and company careen with great skill through a variety of melodies, trading lines with one another, and setting a tone for the rest of the EP. No listener should be intimidated by the EP going into it because, at every step, the musicians are exploring yet inviting the listener to join them on this cosmic voyage. Muselli and Brecker may be the release’s secret weapon as they share an unique chemistry that’s apparent during the first track and never lets up from here.
“Translucent Dodecahedron” is perhaps the EP’s most demanding musical moment. It has something almost progressive about it, thanks to Siciliano’s revelatory synthesizer playing, but there is always melody present as well. The musicians, however, never stay in one place for long, though there’s always an underlying coherence, no matter how far out to the edge they choose to go. It is a spinning cavalcade, a look inside the heart of the universe, and Romano and Acuna do a good job giving the song a solid foundation so the other musicians can weave their magic.
“The Secret of Mansa”, however, is a different kettle of fish. Softer textures are present during this track and Siciliano, in particular, is responsible for giving it much of its atmospheric suggestiveness. Brecker and Muselli, though, are important fixtures in the song’s framework and their probing playing provides the track with near voices that sing from somewhere beyond time. It’s a wonderful example of considered yet passionate playing that never exhausts the listener’s patience.
Siciliano closes with the title song. “Ancient Cosmic Truth” is the exclamation point on an already exceptional album and gives Acuna and Romano the spotlight in a way that the previous performances do not. They push the song, creating unstoppable percussive melodies that pull listeners along, but perhaps the bravest move is the inclusion of voices during the first half of the track. It’s a bold way to end one of the boldest releases in recent years, full of renegade jazz that boils with heat and musical skill. Louis Siciliano has always taken chances and continues to do so, but it always pays off thanks to an artistic acumen that few others possess. He’ll be back again, but this release will likely always stand out as one of his finest moments.