Ensemble Interactivo de La Habana “Studio Session”

TAK editions returns with a stunning document from the nine-person Ensemble Interactivo de La Habana (EIH), the incredible debut from this Cuban group of improvisers bringing their rapturous soundworld to US audiences for the first time. Studio Session was recorded in November 2020 after months of isolation and the sonic catharsis spread across these 40 minutes is riveting. This is an ensemble at peak form.

Diverse, intricate sonic pathways intertwine and emerge from every direction in search of common ground. The opening moments are pensive, a simple, propulsive rhythm moving in conjunction with the building piano cacophony to create a rock-solid foundation. Flutes and strings spring to life, the former flickering like stars in a field while the latter grinds organic drones deep into the ground. Dizzying passages come from all directions, but EIH is so in tune with each other that it’s never too much. Pushed to the brink, the glittering runs and wailing solos sparking new fires left and right, EIH slows down and takes stock.

Throughout Studio Session, I’m enthralled by the way that no single instrument holds the spotlight for more than a moment. Scattering frequencies like seeds from a packet, EIH grows stronger with each passing section. Whimsical flute sequences dance between the rollicking beats that clattering about like a street parade being held indoors. The walls shake and then the quiet comes. These contemplative moments hang in the air, heavy with visceral emotion, combining to create a shared language where all expressions are welcome and celebrated.

EIH is a force of nature. Their music is tactile, alive with fantastical energy that saturates each note and brings their imaginative cadence into its own world. In the closing minutes, Studio Session evolves into an aural jubilee erupting with celebratory joy. Spirits dance cathartic movements as voices holler in blissful relief. Ending with a gentle whisper, EIH creates the sound of liberation. Studio Session is crucial listening.

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