Disciplinary Architecture

SSC1734 2024-07-19

Track List

An Aged Flamingo In A Dried-Up Pool - 12:35
And Then We Towed New Zealand Out to Sea - 6:52
Lighter-Complected Invaders From the North - 7:07
Ricin Beans - 9:47
Nuts and Bulbs (for Drenka) - 5:46
Defeating the Porpoise - 6:27
The Word for Moonlight Is Moonlight - 7:53
Disciplinary Architecture - 9:18
Vile, In the Sunshine Crawling - 9:55


Matt Pavolka - bass
Ben Monder - guitar
Santiago Leibson - keyboards
Allan Mednard - drums

Bandleaders frequently have different ensembles that represent particular aspects of their musical personalities. Bassist/composer Matt Pavolka maintains a handful of groups, some focusing on his writing in more traditional jazz formats and others that provide more open, raucous fare. The Matt Pavolka Band represents the latter, their freewheeling style on full display on their new recording, Disciplinary Architecture.

Pavolka established this quartet nearly twenty years ago, the original ensemble featuring guitarist Ben Monder, keyboard player Pete Rende, and drummer Ted Poor. This group played frequently and had a loose book of pieces that were springboards to their openly improvised performances centered around the remarkable guitar of Ben Monder and his special rapport with keyboardist Rende.

In the 2010s, this ensemble became less of a focus, as Pavolka established a couple of other projects. Towards the end of that decade he began to focus more of his energy on this group again. By this point Rende and Poor had moved on and been replaced by Santiago Leibson and Allan Mednard to form a new version of the band.

Rehearsals and performances revealed a fresh, visceral energy from this incarnation of the group, leading Pavolka to consider a new recording. To that end, he began to write new pieces that frequently allude to another one of his passions, the written word. As a fan of many dark-toned, contemporary fiction writers, the overall feel of this new collection of pieces took on a post-apocalyptic vibe.

Though the group had initially aimed to record in April 2020, they were derailed because of the pandemic. This led Pavolka to focus more on his composing, as he took to iBeam rehearsal space in Brooklyn, where he wrote for hours without interruption. The themes of the pieces he wrote were inspired by the dour times, as he fitted quotes from his favorite writers, radio personalities, and unintentionally ironic overheard statements to fit the music.

The album title, Disciplinary Architecture, comes from a twentieth century architectural concept of influencing public behavior through design of public spaces, like putting spikes on benches to prevent sleeping or ridges on curbs to discourage skateboarding.

Though it would seem from this title that Pavolka would be setting up roadblocks for his ensemble, he readily affords them vehicles for their dynamic performances, which were finally recorded at Bacque Recording on May 31, 2022. The recording presents the pieces in the order they were recorded, usually in a single take, lending it a very visceral, live feeling.