If every CD is a journey, then ambient duo Travel Trip’s Ice in Holes is that one where you’re just sort of going along, heading somewhere, and all of a sudden you jolt into awareness and realize that you know you’ve been driving but you’re not sure for how long or where you are in relation to where you thought you were or where you were headed, but you find that at the very least you’re content that there’s something interesting outside the window…wherever you may be. Marco Seracini and Augusto Tatone bring together synthesizers, electronics and fretless bass in improvised pieces that seem like they have a destination but are happy to wind their way through spaces that are ambient, jazzy and firmly experimental in turn. Not surprisingly, it can be a bit of a mixed bag, and Ice in Holes hits the mark about half the time for me. Tatone’s bass brings a grounded, earthy feel to many of the tracks, with that familiarly round, springy sound. It coils neatly around Seracini’s drifts in the opening track, “Alaska Dreaming.” The duo are perhaps at their middle-of-the-stream best, which is to say neither too straightforward nor too deep into left field, on one the two longest tracks here, “Considerations About Sandy Dennis.” There’s a bit of muddling about as a space is established after launching with a sound bite from Dennis’ 1969 film “A Touch of Love,” with Tatone grinding tones from his bass, but it eventually settles into a mind-salving blend of drifts and noise–sometime subtle, sometime less so. This is where the pair’s chemistry is strongest and because of that, because of the quality of the interplay, the oddness seems less distracting. By perhaps apt contrast, a companion piece, “Considerations About Sandy Dennis in the Mirror,” starts similarly but eventually gets tangled up in its own soundweb, with too many things fighting to be noticed–it’s improvisation that’s gone off the rails and is actively working against itself. Even in the more accessible tracks like the opener and its followup, “MenoMale MiniMale,” a listener has to come into Ice in Holes with an open mind and a willingness to try to work through it. This one will sit better with experimental-music fans than casual listeners.
Available from Auraltone Records.