THREE PHOTOS of glaciers appear on the front cover of "Nine Below Zero," the new album by keyboardist Wayne Horvitz, cornetist Butch Morris and drummer Robert Previte. It's a fitting series of images for an album that consists of nearly motionless music.
This is the sort of music that dispenses with the niceties of harmony and melody, at least for the most part. Instead, the focus is on tone and texture, a sonic landscape as barren and forbidding as the Antarctic. Even tunes that suggest a more hospitable clime, such as "3 Places in Suburban California," become cold and clangorous as the trio's instruments alternately pulse and clash and whine and sometimes erupt with a gaseous wheeze. Not surprisingly, the title tune is the most effective in conveying a specific image, primarily because Morris' cornet conjures up the cry of a wolf. But elsewhere, the sound is more abstract and random, and let's face it: Only dedicated fans of electronic experimental music are likely to stay tuned long enough to fill in the spaces.
Horvitz's "The New Generation," on the other hand, is far more accessible. Featuring guitarists Bill Frisell and Elliott Sharp, the album gathers a more varied collection of tunes than Horvitz has previously released, including refreshingly melodic tunes like "Extra Extra" and the slow, entrancing blues "Please Take That Train From My Door."
WAYNE HORVITZ, BUTCH MORRIS, ROBERT PREVITE --
"Nine Below Zero" (Sound Aspects SAS 014).
WAYNE HORVITZ --
"This New Generation" (Elektra-Musician 9 60759-1). Horvitz and Morris appear Saturday at d.c. space.