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EP Review: Louis Siciliano “Ancient Cosmic Truth’

A powerful thrust of faint chaos is joined to a staggered beat in “Bambara’s Symmetries.” A jazzy sway starts something in “The Secret of Mansa” that stays with us well after the song has reached its rather flamboyant conclusion. Simplistic struts give way to a virtuosic concept from Louis Siciliano in “Translucent Dodecahedron,” but it’s debatable whether or not any of these songs contain as strong a moment as when we first hear the bold “Ancient Cosmic Truth.”

Together, these four compositions comprise the latest extended play from critically acclaimed jazz musician Siciliano, Ancient Cosmic Truth, which is a record that I would go as far as to describe as being one of the most accessible and relatable avant-garde collections released in the last year. Whether you have or haven’t heard the work of its creator before is irrelevant; Siciliano’s sublimely surreal style of songcraft can be found in the sharpest state we’ve ever heard it in here, and while he’s debuted some incredible material in the last two years beside a cast of musicians that has few – if any – equals, this set just might be his most prolific set so far.

 

The cornerstone of Ancient Cosmic Truth is its broad sonic depth. Even the most minuscule of details in these songs, like the contrasting percussive pattern in the title track or the relative absence of reverb in the bigger moments of “Translucent Dodecahedron,” plays a crucial role in defining the mood of the music. Siciliano’s adept style of rhythm presents us with a stunning concept in “Bambara’s Symmetries” that is only contextualized by the backdrop of enduring harmonies between a nervous hook and a pouncing groove just waiting to swallow it up; similarly, the elegant construction of “The Secret of Mansa” makes use of tempo as much as it does the tonality of its instruments.

There’s nothing in the sonic toolbox that Siciliano won’t employ in Ancient Cosmic Truth if it means making his message clear to us, and though some of his rivals might be content to rely on in-studio virtuosities alone, he’s proving to be far too ambitious a performer to limit himself in such a way.

2023 has already been a good year for independent jazz, particularly those coming off of the European circuit, and I think that it’s safe to say Siciliano has claimed the top spot among all of the competition with the release of Ancient Cosmic TruthAncient Cosmic Truth is a very strong contender for best jazz EP of the year, and if it’s any sort of an indication as to what we can expect to hear out of a subsequent full-length effort from Louis Siciliano, it could be the last EP he cuts as a player on the outside of the establishment looking in. Mainstream jazz audiences have been hungry for a songwriter of his caliber for a long time now, and the way I see it, it’s highly probable that this marvelously gifted artist will be topping headlines a lot more often in the next few years ahead.

 

Loren Sperry

 

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