PERFORMER: Iain Ballamy (drums), Thomas Strønen (sax), Nils Petter Molvaer (trumpet), Christian Fennesz (guitar)
CATALOGUE NO: ECM 273 4919
Live sampling, where a performer captures a recorded snapshot of their playing or that of others in real time and stirs the results back into the music, is a much-abused process too often used to paper over gaping cracks in the performers’ musical thinking, as are other forms of electronic augmentation.
Happily this long-standing unit, newly signed to ECM and now operating as a core duo of Ballamy and Strønen plus guests, knows how to use these resources as an adjunct to conventional (and assuredly expert) musicianship with results which are both evocatively atmospheric and provocatively detailed.
Strønen’s deft percussion blends imperceptibly into his sampling, guests Molvaer and Fennesz are in any event masters of this approach, and Ballamy knows exactly when to go with the flow and when to implicitly direct it.
The lucid, spacious ECM production style is a perfect sonic environment for this music, too. Unreservedly recommended. Roger Thomas