According To The Sound: Pitch

British duo leads an Anglo-American cast through a set drawing on triphop, rock, funk, swing, ballad and light avant-garde

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Reviewing this group’s previous album, In-Tension, I found it “a most intelligent, atmospheric and stimulating” release. The same can be said of this melodically rich and equally attractive venture from the British/American-led ensemble.

As on In-Tension, a wide-ranging contemporary rhythmic literacy is on display, with triphop, relaxed funk accents and variously purposive grooves flowing in and out of rubato passages of affecting reflection: witness, e.g., Streams Of Hokkaido, Kingsland High Road and Shoreland Pebbles.

Likewise, the arrangements and instrumentation, with Adam Parry-Davies’s spacious, cleanly sprung pianism mixing well with Patrick Case’s imaginatively cast synthesised programming (sample Streams and Fever Dream) and with some tasty touches from, e.g., Alex Hutchins (elb, g). Throughout, alto man James Morton is superb, his soulful tone full and arresting and his inflection and dynamics as finessed as his rhythmic command.

Fever Dream is deep in mood-shifting, suspended cross-rhythmic mode, featuring assertive work from trumpet and drums, especially. The near-filmic quality I heard in the previous In-Tension is again evident, as it is in the concluding Farewell, which at a tad under 10 minutes is the longest track here. A heart-tugging ad libitum duet between Morton and Parry-Davies induces gradually thickening textures as the mood builds over shuffle drum figures, until the piece finally explodes in a screaming, rock-like climax led by alto and guitar, followed by a slow fade back to the opening ad libitum mood. 

The self-penned liner note asks: “Can music tell a story through a sequence of pitches?” The band then do themselves no favours by offering some postcard-quality suggestions as to what sort of story the music might suggest. But don’t let that put you off investigating what remains a finely rendered, well-sequenced and most enjoyable suite of original compositions.

Discography
Streams Of Hokkaido; Across The Water; Set Peace; Ristrope; Kingsland High Road; Frames By Frames; Fever Dream; Bark In The Game; Matanzas Sun; Shoreland Pebbels; Farewell (49.05)
Collectively: Adam Parry-Davies (p); Patrick Case (syn, g, programming); Nick Malcolm, Mike Rodriguez, Gary Alesbrook, David Adewumi (t); James Morton (as); Sam Shotaka, James Carter (ts); Pasquale Votino, Jim Barr, Käisa Maensivu (b); Alex Hutchings (elb, g); Otta Hashmi (elb); Jared Schonig, Justin Brown (d). Birmingham, Bristol, Los Angeles, New York, September 2022 – July 2023.
Losen Records LOS 290-2