Band names whose meanings are obscure and whose pronunciations are uncertain can be annoying, so to clarify, an aerie is the nest of a bird of prey. It can be pronounced 'airy' or 'eerie," though the music on the debut of this multi-national quintet is neither. Instead, this overtly contemporary jazz veers between bucolic at one extreme and visceral at the other, with flowing improvisations contained within bold compositional frameworks that evolve organically this way and that. The eight compositions, penned by Ingo Hipp (Germany) are free of cliché and satisfyingly vital for that.
The dual saxophones of Hipp and Sam Comerford (Ireland) largely direct the narrative, with guitarist Laurent Meteau (Switzerland) very much part of the front line; drummer Matt Jacobson (Ireland) and bassist Peedu Kass (Estonia) offer far more than just a dynamic rhythmic platform, bringing textural nuance to the mix. Such nationally diverse groups, whilst never exactly rare in jazz, are increasingly the norm, though it's not often that a debut offering sounds as cohesive or boasts such a confident identity as AERIE does on Hatch and Host
The gradually intertwining, staccato saxophones of "Phyton" and the curiously titled "257121 282287" suggest the influence of Marius Neset
, and Aerie adopts a similarly episodic and exhilarating approach, where complex unison and layered lines mutate fluidly. Meteau is central to the sometimes knotty, King Crimson
-esque progressions, though the quintet is as likely to duck down paths where folkloric lyricism and vaguely psychedelic extrapolations co-exist ("Whatever"), where the meditative gives way to doomy, free-form jazz-rock and back again ("Antagonism") or where ploughing riffs and circular motifs alternate with looser jams ("Viper") that sound like a meeting between Ornette Coleman
and Jerry Garcia
The template, both within individual compositions and from one track to the next, is never exactly the same, though the differences are, for the most part, not so stark. "Traveler," for example, evolves from brushes-led melodicismwith a seductive solo from Kassthrough quietly noodling abstraction to grooving, rhythmically punchy terrain, which Hipp navigates in an impressive solo of some swagger. "I Quit," likewise, grows from quietly rustling beginnings to embrace stirring unison motifs and, through Comerford, straight-ahead exploration. The standout track, stylistically, is "Temple of the Sea," whose ethereal, hushed harmonics and subtle percussive colors draw a simple, alluring veil over the set. Host and Hatch
strikes an immediate chord on both an emotional and a cerebral level, though for the patient, repeated listens serve up greater rewards. A vibrant debut that demands an encore.