RAY is Ashley Paul’s trio project featuring Yoni Silver and Otto Willberg and on Another Sand, they light up abandoned pathways, welcoming all the hidden ghosts back into the fold. Recorded live at Cafe OTO in June of this year, this performance is textured with an array of emotions, but, as the trio’s first show post-lockdown, the dichotomy of apprehension and relief is most prominent.
On the first piece shared from the release, “Soak the Ocean + Star Over Sand,” those emotions create a unique and engaging tension. Willberg’s methodic, pensive bass thumbs are like a gentle bedrock, repeating notes in simple patterns while Paul and Silver flash tentative flickers to fill the empty space. Everything feels uneasy but grateful to be somewhere else. As Paul’s hushed voice sings spare lullabies, the lyric, “Free me from today,” carries the weight of a thousand suns. Settled amongst the brittle instrumentation, it’s so poignant and moving.
Eventually, the clouds begin to break up, Willberg pushing the trio further ahead while Paul’s and Silver’s woodwinds move in intricately choreographed, slow-moving sequences. Stacked energy cascades outward, the wail of Paul’s saxophone is chilling, charging headfirst into the cathartic slipstream. Silver, for his part, meets that skree with a guttural deliberation. Coming back to Earth, RAY continues the charged, emotive crawl across tear-drenched landscapes glistening beneath a moonlit sky, imbued with a fearlessness and rife with the freedom to finally fly again. “Soak the Ocean + Star Over Sand” is alive with magical essence.
Another Sand is out on November 5 via Ashley’s Wagtail label, available digitally and on cassette.
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