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Ian Smith / Harris Eisenstadt / Simon H. Fell - K3

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Artist: Ian Smith / Harris Eisenstadt / Simon H. Fell

Album: K3

Label: Bruce's Fingers

Review date: Jan. 6, 2006

I’ve never heard a disc so full of sounds and sonic diversity exist somehow so close to silence. I don’t mean to imply that movement and form are absent – this simply isn’t true. Yet, this trumpet-bass-drums trio has created music whose loudest moments demand and exude space, in which each gesture is an utterance unto itself while maintaining tangential but critical contact with surrounding forces.

There are many moments of near-silence on K3, and a quick dip into the opening moments of “Voiceless Vealer Stop” tells the story. A few airily gorgeous long-tones from Smith and Fell form delicious ghost triads, with Eisenstadt only punctuating when necessary (which is less and less as the track wends its stealthy way). The two bookends to the disc are superficially more volatile, but repeated listening reveals a prefiguration (especially in the first track), hints of an as yet untold future that often manifests itself in the finest live performances. Halfway through “Potassium,” the dynamic level drops off abruptly, giving way to an uneasy series of susurrations, moans, growls, thumps and taps in which nervous energy and contemplation vie for prominence. Hindsight relegates this frozen moment to the nebulous realm of prophecy given developments in “Voiceless”, and the gradual realization of such ineluctability is breathtaking.

Most surprising to me, though, is the degree to which individual identity is maintained throughout. While the instrumentation suggests jazz as topoi, I hear very little on this date that invokes jazz gestalt. Rather, Stockhausen’s comments on Messiaen’s third Rhythmic Etude, in which he compares each note to a galaxy, seem quite appropriate here. Melodic line in the conventional sense is almost non-existent, usurped by smears and dabs of sound, all held together beautifully by Eisenstadt’s bottomless ticks and tings, executed with wisdom beyond his years. Great for us that he made time in September of 2003 to play this live date in London, another fresh addition to an always challenging and interesting catalogue.

By Marc Medwin

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