According To The Sound: In-Tension

British keyboard and synth duo produce appealing atmospheres with guests including Ambrose Akinmusire and James Carter

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This is the second album by Parry-Davies and Case, following Prism-a-Ning from 2020, also on Losen Records – which I haven’t heard but am keen to do so now. In a sleeve note they detail the intricate, complex and demanding logistics of recording and producing online across a British/American axis during the Covid pandemic lockdown, as they mixed real-time improvisation with various programming. A glance at the personnel and instrumentation will confirm the scale of their endeavour.

Lucid and shape-shifting, intimate and spare, abstracted and full-on: this imaginative and most thoughtful music is very much of today, especially in its rhythmic literacy and diversity, while also drawing upon archetypal jazz values. Hear the freshly swinging A Million Miles To Run and Snake State, both of which I imagine might have caught the ear of the late, great Joe Harriott, or the bluesy Feel It In The Air, with its ultra-lyrical alto from James Morton and searing trumpet from Ambrose Akinmusire.

Compare the haunting stillness of String Theory, where Morton’s alto delivers more strikingly meditative figures, with the propulsive interwoven lines of the initially edgy Noise of Time, which morphs into some Matthew Halsall-like string-fed passages. And relish both the big-band amplitude and exuberance of The Switch and laid-back funkiness of Heavy Smoke, as well as the all-systems-firing conclusion that is Outbound.

Despite the variety, the music has a most engaging, flowing and organic quality. And if, at times, it can skirt the filmic, it retains throughout its intrinsic musical interest. A most intelligent, atmospheric and stimulating release.

Discography
In-Tension; Politics Of Fiction; Past In Process; String Theory; The Switch; Party Line; Noise Of Time; A Million Miles To Run; Feel It In The Air; Snake State; Heavy Smoke; Outbound (60.22)
Adam Parry-Davies (p, elp, MIDI kyb); Patrick Case (elg, syn, programming, MIDI p, string arrangements) with (variously) Gary Alesbrook, Mike Rodriguez, Ambrose Akinmusire, Theo Croker (t); James Morton (as); James Carter, Sam Shotokova (ts); Jim Barr, Adam King, Pasquale Votino (b); Otto Hashmis, Alex Hutchings (elb); Jake Goldbas, Justin Brown (d); Alex Fryer (cond) & String Players, The Academy of St Mary-Le-Bow, London, September 2019 – June 2021.
Losen Records LOS272-2