Bill Laurance, Michael League: Where You Wish You Were

Laurence and Legeu depart the funky Snarky Puppy trajectory in favour of something more spacious, intimated by the presence of oud and ngoni


Think of Bill Laurance and Michael League and an automatic connection to make is with Snarky Puppy. But this is an altogether different musical collaboration, with harmony, melody and space very much shaping the content of Where You Wish You Were.

The dramatic album cover artwork plays a part in setting the scene for the listening experience – the vast sweep of red sand stretching to the horizon has a mystery about it. The music, too, often sounds mysterious and intensely dramatic, and that sense of drama is maintained throughout the performances.

League plays a range of fretless stringed instruments of Mediterranean and oriental origin across the compositions. There is an eastern feel to the sounds generated, and League acknowledges the influence of Greek and Turkish music in the release notes that accompany the album.

Laurance performs on acoustic piano with the strings dampened with extra felt. This too adds to the unique nature of the sound the two musicians create.

There is a purity here, a sense of things being stripped back to the essentials. As with so many projects like this, the importance of the connection between two musicians is matched by the importance of the sense of space that exists between the notes. Where You Wish You Were succeeds in serving up a unique blend of sounds, an album that offers up more riches on repeated listens.

La Marinda; Meeting Of The Mind; Round House; Sant Esteve; Kin; Tricks; Anthem For A Tiny Nation; Ngoni Baby; Bricks; Where You Wish You Were; Duo (41.27)
Laurance (v, p); League (g, elg, v, oud, ngoni). Catalonia, Spain, no date given.
ACT Records 9961-2