Ever wished electric jazz would just drop a tab?
Never fear, Mahatmosphere is herewhose latest release Beautiful Dirt
thoroughly explores immersive, mind-expanding soundscapes laced with solid musicianship.
Track them down on YouTube and you will find this UK-based electric trioconsisting of drummer Marco Anderson, guitarist Mark Lawrence and bassist Al Swaingervery much in the live, group improvisational mode. Of course, this carries over onto Beautiful Dirt
but feels appropriately different since they have put the larger depth of field the studio offers to great use.
The album opener "Watching The Skies (Over Syria)" is a burgeoning, well-layered invocation in which Lawrence deploys a range of influences from Reichian ephemera to the fierce viscerality of early McLaughlin.
The ensuing twelve-minute title track leads into more anarchic waters which display the group's stream-of-consciousness interplay ethosoften with Swainger's deep churnings pulling the tide. It is also in this general context that Anderson's drum work shows its finest qualitiesnever over-playing, picking up spontaneous cues, conversing, yet cementing what might otherwise be overly-amorphous proceedings into something more cogent.
Subsequently, there is the melancholy "No Me He De Regresar (I Will Not Return)" with its Lawrence-induced Torn/Fripp afterglow, the brief (and nearly straightforward) space-jam of "Mahatmafunk Intercession," and the elongated climatologies of "Stealth Blade" and "Heavy" to round out Beautiful Dirt
. All provide deviations in scenario but do much to reinforce that the group forte here is in sympatico atmospherics.
While their work on Beautiful Dirt
shows that Anderson, Lawrence and Swainger can surely play, the album's thrust is clearly less an exploration of chops and compositional prowess than creation of evocative sonic microcosmsor macrocosms as it were. As such, ambient music fans will most likely find this a substantial offeringwith the extra heft coming in from the jazz-rock influence and their collective gift for audio sculpting. Those looking for more traditional melodic hooks, compositions or advanced harmonic explorations to latch onto might find this album a bit leanor even head-scratching. It all depends.... do you want a red pill or a blue pill?
In any case, Mahatmosphere's savvy explorations in sound will go a long way to either awakening an under-utilized part of the jazz brain or indeed expanding the ambient one. Whichever head-space you may approach from, Beautiful Dirt
is a rabbit hole worth following them down.
Track Listing: Watching The Skies (Over Syria); Beautiful Dirt; Stealth Blade; No Me He De Regresar (I Will Not Return); Mahatmafunk
Personnel: Marco Anderson: Drums, FX, Vocoder & Soundscapes; Mark Lawrence: Guitar & Soundscapes; Al Swainger: Bass, FX &
Title: Beautiful Dirt
| Year Released: 2019
| Record Label: Self Produced