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The Antripodean Collective is a quartet of four Australians seeking their own niche in the world of freely improvised jazz. Relinquishing dissonant pyrotechnics in favor of carefully placed event-driven moments, the group nods toward the AACM's spatial framework while still managing to carve out its own place in the improvisational landscape.
The unit's instrumental makeup is one rarely heard, and the music is all the more effective for it. John Rodgers' violin is capable of melding beautifully with the outlining piano of Marc Hannaford while Scott Tinkler's trumpet and Ken Edie's drum work further serve the unit's textural sound world. The opening "Tagbody" displays from the outset the group's knack for spontaneous interaction. Each note of Tinkler's introduction is respected, only to be punctuated by Edie or Hannaford when the effect is greatest. The undulating nature of the work is beautifully constructed and when Rodgers and Tinkler merge notes for a held drone, the piece reshapes its momentum for its final minutes.
The pointillist interactions of "Block" often find the unit stripping down to duets, opening with only Rodgers and Tinkler. Later on it is Rodgers and Hannaford who join up before Edie enters with sporadic but fleeting runs as Tinkler rejoins to close the track. The working method is a perfect encapsulation of the group's unselfish nature. When all members do play, the effect is that much more provocative due to its scarcity.
"Gensym" opens with Hannaford hammering at the keys in what is the least cautious construction on the album. Still, the unit never sinks into cliched forms or all- out blowing as they wander through their distinctive sonic territory. The sparse, almost folk-like feel to "Gethash" could be an extremely loose and fluid cover of some ancient melody. The fact that it is culled from freely improvised sessions makes it all the more effective.
The closing "Dribble," with its focus on quick responses of floating lines and timbral shapings is a suitable closing to an album which likely represents only a small fraction of this talented unit's oeuvre.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.