Amidst the teeming diversity and cacophonous sprawl of Los Angeles are scores of people who specialize in making and selling dreams. There is probably no place on earth that has not been imagined or portrayed there and preserved on celluloid. But to truly experience the soul of a place, to connect with it, soak it in, and meaningfully interact with it, you really do need to be there. Perhaps it was with this mindset that Brian Allen Simon aka Anenon packed up his instruments in the spring of 2017 and left behind a roiling political/cultural climate for the serene and picturesque rolling hills of Tuscany, home to millenia of sublime artistic expression and enviable provincial life. There, in a makeshift attic studio on the third story of a 16th century villa in the small town of Palaia he embarked on a month long musical odyssey which resulted in his fourth LP entitled Tongue.
“I live in the city of ephemerality. The omnipresent LA light soaks my mind and body and moves me forward towards a dark and inconsistent absence of remembrance. Around me, histories are bought and sold daily in an unplanned, urban and suburban dwelling that on paper makes zero sense, but in reality has become a haven for wide open creative thinking and action that couldn’t exist anywhere else…I wanted to make music that can live inside of anywhere one finds themselves: city or country. It’s a series of shifting moods and melodies that through the heart, mind, hands, throat, and tongue sing an outpouring of metaphysical, nuanced psychedelic passing truth.” – Brian Allen Simon
The author of the album’s liner notes proffers a viewpoint of Tongue as nothing less than an “infinite array of human emotions distilled into sound”, “a deft manipulation of space, time, tension, and mood” and “a beauty that’s both plaintive and prismatic”. Give these sounds a chance to soak in and assimilate them into your consciousness and you’ll quickly realize those words are not at all overreaching. With soprano sax, piano, synthesizer, and field recordings Simon fabricates a place all his own, a fusion of two worlds where frantic modernity and pastoral beauty coexist and where free jazz and loose experimentation do not contradict lush ambient textures. Save for the bucolic pieces that nicely bookend the album, this enticing enigma is evident in throughout perhaps reaching its most elevated expression on the eight-minute showpiece “Mansana” where an extended burst of solo sax improvisation subsides into ethereal waves of soulful beauty and shimmering piano bliss.
This music is the product of a restless mind capable of pondering timelessness while never completely shedding its restless nature and self-awareness making Tongue one of the more singular, cerebral, and invigorating sonic journeys you’re likely to encounter on your musical travels.