The exhaustive mastery of an instrument will inevitably provide a playground for experimentation and improvisation, as made clear by Brooklyn saxophonist Kate Mohanty, whose debut solo EP, The Double Image, drops April 29 via GP Stripes. A legitimate departure from her work in brilliant Brooklyn trio Parlor Walls, the record is an exercise in a sort of controlled chaos, an eventful and unpredictable machination of a singular, skillful vision. Immediately upon hearing the opening drone of pitchy disquiet, a foundation of uncertainty is laid, as nothing will repeat itself, at least not for the tape’s seventeen-minute, totally improvised Side A. It’s riddled with mood, exuded by someone who proficiently knows how to create and manipulate it, and with such limited means. Lengthy, crescendoed notes build tensions more taut than a killer’s garrote wire, giving way to abrupt and short-lived trills, and shrill and skittish attacks that feel like beautiful little car crashes, each one capable of making an entire body’s worth of hair stand on edge. There are breaks in the sound that create agonizing moments of suspense, only to be broken by a single staccato note that’s almost cute. Mohanty’s lack of structure and the desperate anticipation of the next frenzy of notes is a drama in and of itself.
The second side of the tape is more composed, but no less intriguing, introducing collaborations with a Wurlitzer, played by both Ryan Power and Zach Phillips (who recorded the album). Scaling notes and more calmed arpeggios play over the cooling liquid backdrop of the keys. It’s jazzy at times, dissonant at others, and wholly alluring at others, like a snakecharmer’s song. The whole things plays like a performance art masterwork, something you would never see or hear duplicated, knowing full well Mohanty is in control.
Kate Mohanty will play a release show April 29 at The Glove with Ryan Power, Dumb Wolves, The Spookfish, and Catfox.