Chris Cogburn/Ingebrigt Håker Flaten/Bob Hoffnar/Henry Kaiser
En las Montañas de Excesos (Self Sabotage)
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., May 11, 2018
Contrary to popular belief, imaginative and virtuosic musicians elevate ad-libbed music beyond "jams." Thus thrives En las Montañas de Excesos (In the Mountains of Excess), an improvisational collaboration between Austinites Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (the Thing, Young Mothers), Bob Hoffnar (Mood Illusion), and Chris Cogburn (No Idea Festival), and San Francisco great Henry Kaiser (Yo Miles!, French Frith Kaiser Thompson). Each player boasts extensive improvisational experience, with clear ability to follow another player's nuances and nudge them in unexpected directions. Bassist Flaten and percussionist Cogburn keep the rhythms propulsive, remaining in the pocket without disrupting timekeeping. Guitarist Kaiser and steel guitarist Hoffnar mix and match a wide variety of textures, allowing melody to duel with dissonance sans violence. Noisy riff-mongering meets painterly ambience teeth-grinding pick scrapes cuddling with lush lyricism and everyone leaves as much space as they fill. A sense of humor provides the last piece of the puzzle, not only as a sudden twist that makes colleagues smile, but as a conceptual vision, like the nods to author H.P. Lovecraft in the titles (In the Mountains of Excess, "The Dream Quest of the Unknown Plethora"). These guys are having a ball, and it shows in the strength of the performances, the unity of purpose, and the sheer delight in spontaneous composition.