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Memorize the Sky
The Wire
Philip Clark
This is an allusive, relentlessly surprising disc from a trio who met in Michigan in the late 1990's, and have continued to refine an ensemble identity that's as malleable as it is unique. Jimmy Giuffre meets Morton Feldman? Perhaps. Except that implies they've simply cut and shut together two modernist totems and severely underestimates the ripening of their personal vision.

At the core of the trio is a strategic sense of instrumental tromp l'oeil. Reedsman Matt Bauder doubles on percussion, and bassist Zach Wallace also plays unpitched percussion and vibraphone. Main percussionist Aaron Siegel, meanwhile, is carefully listed as playing snare drum, bass drum, vibraphone and percussion. - and this fastidious itemisation recognises the precise role that each instrument takes in the unfolding argument. The opening tracks "Raft of Stone" and "Lake of Light" pare things down to regenerative structures, anchored by rolling bell sounds and the microtonal inflections of Bauder's tart clarinet. Wallace's bass ricochets and stammers underneath, leaving the ear to reach around the sounds to fathom their instrumental allegiance.

Third track "Etch of Wood" offers another perspective. Bauder's zigzagging bass clarinet lines are an intriguing mixture of Feldman-like objectivity (he's a fan of Feldman's Bass Clarinet and Percussion, I'm sure) but with phraseology and a tonal warmth that reveal his jazz roots. Wallace's dancing basslines are locked into a pirouette with Siegel's spreadeagled vibraphone arpeggiations. After long stretches of slowly evolving sounds, the penultimate track is a bright scherzo, with a final extended piece, "Path of Spider", acting as a cathartic conclusion.

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