Label: International Anthem Recording Company
Lightning Dreamers is new work by composer, trumpeter, interdisciplinary abstractivist and modern music mogul Rob Mazurek, who wrote the music for a compacted version of his long-running Exploding Star Orchestra. A follow-up to the acclaimed 2020 Mazurek/ESO release Dimensional Stardust, the album features guitarist Jeff Parker, vocalist Damon Locks, drummer Gerald Cleaver, and pianists Angelica Sanchez and Craig Taborn, among others. It was recorded mostly at the remote Sonic Ranch studios in West Texas, not far from Mazurek’s current home in Marfa, in the days leading up to a debut of the music at Trans Pecos festival in September 2021. Mixing and post-production was headed by Dave Vettraino from IARC studios in Chicago across 2022.
The album’s opener “Future Shaman” was co-produced by Parker and features added percussion by Mazurek’s longtime São Paulo Underground collaborator Mauricio Takara, as well as synth bass from
Cathlene Pineda. The track finds Mazurek and ESO where they left off with Dimensional Stardust – deep in a chromatic funk fantasy of outer-space grooves and Bartok-ian riffs. Vocalist/MC Locks brings the Orson Welles via Deltron 3030 energy while Taborn and Sanchez face-off from behind Wurlitzer pianos and Moog synthesizers. On “Dream Sleeper” Locks’s poetry is swirled in drifting storm clouds of fractured atmospherics, both improvised and composed. “Shape Shifter” finds Mazurek recalling a past life of Isotope 217 – not just for the swinging grooves anchored by Moog basslines, but also in that he returns to the trumpet after years of playing cornet. Once the soaring melodic theme is established the ensemble shifts into On The Corner mode, creating a mangled rhythmic base for Taborn’s Wurlitzer runs and clean guitar soloing from Parker, before shapeshifting yet again under Mazurek’s rising polytonal electronics as Locks’s scattered vocal embellishments take us to the promised land.
The album’s whole B-side is an immersive trip that spans two tracks – “Black River” and “White River” – for which Mazurek interwove takes from the Sonic Ranch sessions with live material from an expanded ESO performance recorded in February 2022 at Sons d’Hiver in Paris, France. In the liner notes for Lightning Dreamers, Mazurek writes that the music is “an evocation of a theme from the “Black River Suite,” which I have been revisiting and reimagining over time.”