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Jeff Tripoli – Wabi Sabi Album Review

A review by Fish.

Wabi Sabi flows. It is focused, in the moment, and pulsating through time.

Who is Jeff Tripoli, and what does he do? He does the drums. He vibes with the rhythms of life. He explores sonic landscapes with courage and vigor. He composes music that is primal, trippy, experimental, and daring. He also infuses tribal dance vibes into his creative output.

In traditional Japanese aesthetics, Wabi Sabi is the appreciation of art that is imperfect, transient, incomplete, and economical. It is a fondness for the forces of nature and natural objects. The compositions that Jeff has put together reflect this aesthetic. You will hear winding rhythms, beautiful organic production by Jeff Moleski, and relentless grooves that ignite the fire in your soul.

What I love most about this recording is that there are no vocals. (Although, some experimentation with rhythmic vocal sounds a la Phillip Glass may have added even more depth. That’s me being nitpicky). This is an album you can listen to while working. The churning rhythms and driving backbeats radiate an energy that will make you feel alive and driven to complete your tasks.

A standout track is Wabi Sabi. The kick drum on this drives deep into my gut and would make any hard rock band jealous. Jeff has achieved the perfect kick drum sound here. I want to pick his brain on how he achieved it! Furthermore, Jeff has made his own instruments for this project. I am not aware of what these instruments are, but I can tell there are some sounds here that are not traditionally found in a percussion cabinet.

The compositions will make most percussion ensemble enthusiasts smile from ear to ear. I can even see this landing well with those who enjoy experimental dance music and drum circles. The music on this project conjures up the following: Imagine a swarm of people’s limbs swooping through the air in no particular pattern. A huge bonfire resides in the middle of an open field, and all who wish to feel their inner strength surround the flames. Humans reveling in the most basic, driving rhythms lose themselves in the music. Drumming is one of the earliest forms of musical expression, so it is no wonder this album has the power to bring listeners back to their roots.

Jeff enlists the help of Butch Norton, Jeff Tortora (Blue Man Group), and Griffin Brady on select tracks. I can only imagine how much fun it must have been to perform these compositions.

Remember, to gain the most out of Wabi Sabi, I suggest listening in the car, dancing to it, or putting on good-quality headphones. Perhaps there will be some live performances in the future. Jeff, congrats on the achievement.

Fish’s Scale: 6/7

Reasoning: for the sheer authenticity of this recording, I give it 6 out of 7 stars. It is not a work that will make it to the mainstream music scene, however, this is not the intention of the work. Jeff knows what he is after and he has succeeded. One year of work has translated into a unique listening experience. I venture to say that listening to this recording is good for your brain. Sometimes what we really need is music that hits our core, with no frills, no extra polish, and imperfections. What we need is to remember what it feels like to be human.