At first sight, the instrumentation here may look as though the music would be overly dense and that the musicians would collide. However, the 10 pieces on this recording prove that it is not even close to anything describable as a "collision."
Mbókò is subtitled "Sacred Music for Piano, Two Basses, Drum Set and Biankomeko Abakua" indicating that there is a religious context here. The piano is featured alongside the two bass players (Thomas Morgan and Robert Hurst) with the usual trap set (Marcus Gilmore) and the four-drum biankomko kit (Roman Diaz). The Abakua is a magic-religious male initiation society in Cuba based on a West African masked dance performance. The role of the two double basses act as a drone, echoing the sounds of certain West African string instruments such as bolombato.
The music features intelligent drumming from Gilmore who also adds splashes of colour and texture. The basses are always present in the mix, with Roman Diaz’s ethno drums to the fore along with the piano. The 10 Virelles compositions cover a wide range of emotions.
Wind Rose opens withthe deft drums of Gilmore then joined by both bass players followed by sparse piano chords interspersed with Diaz’s drums. The Scribe is infectious with an understated melody with the bass players playing in the higher registers. Aberinan y Aberisun is a stately processional. Seven, Through the Divination Horn has a strident piano with a driving pulsating rhythm section. Stories Waiting To Be Told strides forwards with a forceful upbeat riff and descends into blocks of chords and back again with pulsating basses. With Transmission, the beginning reeks of bebop but then distils into calm with chanting from Diaz. The Highest One is almost like a children's playground song with everyone contributing.
With repeated listening there will be be more Stories Waiting To Be Told.