Now this is a surprising delight- a collaboration between avant-garde soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo and Luca Collivasone, the player of the unique "Cacophonator" instrument - a tricked out and wired up 1940's sewing machine aggressively modified into a bizarre musical instrument. Although Mimmo is new to me (he's been releasing albums since 2005), I reviewed Collivasone's 'Vostra Signora Del Rumore Rosa' LP here back in 2018, and if you want a more detailed description of the cacophonator you can refer to that review. This certainly isn't the first collaboration of between a jazz instrument and electronics (or something like it) but because of Luca's highly varied instrument it sounds like something fresh that's never been done before. Something that comes to mind as vaguely similar are the collaborations between free jazz multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee and synthesist John Snyder, but even they pale in comparison to this.
'Rumpus Room' opens with a track titled "Township Ecstasies" with Mimmo running up to the highest notes while Luca provides bizarre rhythmic input on the cacophonator. Lots of other strange but familiar sounds emanate from it too, and it even manages to provide double-bass that could have come from Bruno Tommaso or Charlie Haden. As the players delve deeper into the instrumental interplay feeling each other out, the track serves as a showpiece of what these two are capable of, and it's formidable. Over the course of eight tracks clocking in at a mere 31 minutes, these two musicians challenge each other in a way they've probably never been challenged before. After a few listenings it almost seems as though this combination was a match made in avant-garde free jazz heaven; there is so much chemistry at work. The general aura is mysterious melancholy, and I'm reminded of Tuxedomoon in that regard, although this is really further out. While Collivasone provides the environment this strange trip is set in, Mimmo plays the part of the protagonist who must navigate it, and does so with nimble aplomb. While some might find some of the weird sounds that pop out of the cacophonator distracting, I found it to be a source of endless inventiveness and amusement. It is the ultimate X-factor in improvisation, and really takes the avant-gardeness of this free jazz experiment to a whole new level. Mimmo's virtuosity on the soprano sax cannot be overstated; he's just that damn good, and with the Collivasone Cacophonator as his foil, this surely is a dynamic free jazz duo.