Trio HLK: Anthropometricks 

British trio and guests including Evelyn Glennie play a set of jagged jazz-rock combining elements of contemporary classical and jazz


While it’s been six years since Trio HLK released their first album, the 11-minute title track opening their second is testament alone to how much they have grown as a group. At once, it’s clear the musical and sonic goalposts have widened as the sprawling Anthropmetricks unpacks odd-metered, tempo-wavering drums, crunchy eight-string guitar and soft-to-stabbing piano lines, all at various points in unison with some Indian raga vocals from one of the band’s new collaborators, Varijashree Venugopal.

Like the band’s debut, this new seven-song set is once more composed by pianist Rich Harrold from the melodic stems of popular standards; the opening opus a reference to Parker and Gillespie’s Anthropology. fIVe follows and is announced with a slow, clickety shuffle feel from drummer Rich Kass and some eerie, spidery runs on keys. With Ant Law’s low-end fretwork soon adding weight and a subtle, contrasting bass hook, the track is dragged towards a more scintillating solo section, underpinned with some dramatic cello from another new guest in Natalie Clein.

Akin to Venugopal, and what acclaimed percussionist Evelyn Glennie has long brought to the band’s music, Cline creates tension and a sonic contrast that can divert your attention from the fractured melodic ideas, scratchy, near-distorted guitar and often challenging drum parts that layer tracks like the trio-only tune Flanagan’s Lament, the slow building, Latin-infused Apostrophe or Stellar, the marimba and guitar-heavy last track that brings to mind 70s Zappa.

The album’s standout, though, may be the brilliant Concertinas (For Bill) which, before being dragged into a heavy, highly adrenalised middle section and bring-to-the-boil drum solo, plays like an inebriated All Blues, the familiar bass refrain unsteady over the gentle swish of brushes, Cline and Glennie improvising around the melody and Harrold freely contorting what is can only assume is a homage to Mr. Evans.      

Anthropometricks; fIVe; Concertinas (for Bill); Prelude; Flanagan’s Lament; Apostrophe (part I); Apostrophe (part II); Stellar (55.37)
Rich Harrold (p, synth); Rich Kass (d, pc); Ant Law (eight-stg g); Evelyn Glennie (vib, mar, pc); Natalie Clein (clo); Varijashree Venugopal (v). Castlesound Studios, Pencaitland.
Ubuntu Music UBU0152CD