Salamander, the debut album by Brooklyn bassist-composer, Peter Kerlin (Solar Motel Band, Christy & Emily, Source of Yellow) takes the listener through five bass-driven compositions scored for two vibraphones, two basses, organ, drums, percussion, and viola. The range of each piece’s compositional core reaches from the through-composed "Bulbs" and "Snake Eats Electric Blanket" to the open cosmic jazz expression of "Ballad of the Bewildered Herd." Along the way, post-rock staples like Stereolab and Tortoise and Krautrock luminaries Can, Faust and Neu! serve as jumping off points, as well as Terry Riley, Sonny Sharrock, and Eric Dolphy. It’s a soaring, melodic flow of ecstatic energy that sweeps the listener along a sustained ride.
Salamander - whose title refers to the animal in medieval lore that can survive fire, highlighting the poetic, mythological, naive contradiction of humankind’s relationship with nature - is Kerlin’s first foray into a more ambitious compositional work, employing detailed notation as well as guided improvisational passages.
The ensemble features the contributions of lauded Brooklyn area players such as Mike Pride (Bacteria to Boys, Period, Dynamite Club), Taylor Bergren-Chrisman (Golem, The Dollars) Jessica Pavone (composer and frequent collaborator with Mary Halvorson), Amy Cimini (Anthony Braxton, Till by Turning, Starring), Sam Sowyrda (Cloud Becomes Your Hand, Dan Deacon), Cesare Papetti (Firebird Ensemble), Emily Manzo (Christy & Emily, Till by Turning) and Karen Waltuch (John Cale, Cynthia Hopkins).
As a bass player, Kerlin has worked with a range of artists such as Ted Leo, Chris Forsyth, Nate Wooley, Ryan Sawyer, Hans Joachim Irmler of Faust, Christy & Emily, Source of Yellow, and many others.