There is a deliberateness to what Aruan Ortiz is attempting to achieve with the ten tracks on Hidden Voices, which was recorded in two sessions with just bassist Eric Revis and drummer Gerald Cleaver, which is never less than intriguing, in spite of its exactness.
Ortiz is a compelling musician and composer, because he is always opening doors, always trying something new, and what some might regard as obfuscatory, or inaccessible, turns out to be anything but if you do your homework, and you can see why Ortiz so admires Ornette Coleman and Thelonious Monk, two of whose compositions, feature here.
Ortiz genuinely pushes boundaries: he views this collection as a circle with no beginning and no end, a sonic version of an equilateral triangle, the image of which seems more accommodating than the reality: for example, Uno, dos y tres, que paso mas chevre, is smooth and bound with no breaks between the notes.
So the concept of motion, though rooted in architectural patterns, but not exclusively, surfaces throughout, and your senses are telling you that there is no vivid tonal centre, no terra firma of musical context to latch onto. But you’d be wrong.
Fractal Sketches is onomatopoeic: Ortiz, after a period studying fractal designs in rural Africa, uses geometry to replicate recurring patterns: you might not see the pattern of a snowflake, but you know it has to be there.
For Ortiz the principal shape is based on a triad, on two intervals, and moves in circular motion, becoming bigger with progression.
And so with Arabesques of a Geometrical Rose (Spring) and Arabesques of a Geometrical Rose (Summer) there is melody, without any tonal heart, but pursuing a logical system
In Joyful Noises the three musicians have the floor in between the notes, where the multi-levelled structure is in essence imaginary, and there is a dawning that, whether atonal or fractal or arabesque, music’s amorphous meanderings defy our best of intentions to define.