This newly formed trio's 2008 release is thematically based upon a frigid pair of islands off the Russian coast. In turn, the artist and his venerable improvising/progressive-jazz associates weave a musically chilling panorama via spacey backdrops and tumultuous three-way dialogues. At times, they invoke danger, as if they're warning the listener to proceed with caution.
Guitarist Mark O'Leary's mastery of volume control techniques is in full stride. And with violist Eyvind Kang also injecting effects processing into the grand mix, the music iterated here is spiced with ethereal passages and torridly enacted, linear phrasings. Meanwhile, drummer Dylan Van Der Schyff's asymmetrical rhythmic palate enables the soloists to expand and constrict motifs, where the trio element often sounds significantly larger than might be anticipated.
They propagate cataclysmic frontiers, laced with ominous undertones, but O'Leary and Kang also engage in some quasi-folk passages amid a few daintily rendered string-plucking maneuvers. Otherwise, the band dissects and reshapes a myriad of tonal contrasts during "Story of Iceland," enhanced by the guitarist's skyward surge atop Kang's subtle and contrapuntal viola lines.
The instrumentalists navigate through turbulent currents and expansive tundras while balancing out the grand schema with hints of avant-garde-shaded world music. In a lucid sense, the artists transmit notions of a topographical icescapefirmed up with vast expressionism and mind-twisting ebbs and flows. Hence, an early top-ten contender, within the improvisational arena, for 2008...
Personnel: Mark O’Leary: guitar; Eyvind Kang: viola, processing; Dylan Van Der Schyff: drums, percussion, laptop.