Ten solo vibraphone improvisations, recorded in single takes with occasional electronic processing on three tracks, form the content of Martin Pyne's Behind The Mist. Pyne creates cool, spacious, crystalline soundsmusic that seems to emerge organically from its inspirations.
Pyne is a member of Busnoys, has accompanied silent films and has worked with jazz and improvising musicians including saxophonist Stan Sulzmann. He is also clearly a man with a love of the fantastical. The title track of Busnoys' Weaving The Spell (Tall Guy Records, 2014) was inspired by Arthurian legend, "Nocturne" by Homer's Odyssey: the band's previous album, By Tapering Torchlight (Tall Guy Records, 2012), featured titles such as "Waltzing On The Devil's Ground" and "Siren Song." Pyne goes even further on Behind The Mist, taking inspiration from British and Irish tales of the faerie world.
The faeries of the British Isles are a mixed bunchsome are happy to help humans, others live to play tricks on them, others steal their babies, still others foretell their deaths. Pyne's improvisations are similarly varied. "Naimh Of The Golden Hair," as befits the tale of an Irish faery princess, is beautiful and mystical. "Spriggans" is skittish, urgent, the sound of a group of naughty sprites. "Changeling" is darker, Pyne using electronics to give the tune a simple yet melancholy foundation. On "Will O' The Wisp" his vibes swoop and dart, constantly shifting pace and direction, just as the titular creature dances around to lure travellers from the safety of the road.
The one exception to these faerie inspirations is "Song For Grace Melbury," inspired by Thomas Hardy's Wessex tales. The tune first appeared on By Tapering Torchlight: this solo, acoustic, interpretation is starker than the trio version, but even more evocative of Grace's tragic story.
On the sleeve of Behind The Mist Pyne advises that "This music is mostly very quiet, and ideally should not be over amplified." Wise words. Listen late at night, with the volume low, and Niamh might come along and listen toojust hope that the Yarthkin doesn't turn up.
Niamh Of The Golden Hair; Yarthkin; Behind The Mist; Asrai; Spriggans;
Changeling; Will O’ The Wisp; Hildaland; Hollow Hill; Song For Grace Melbury.
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