Most artists in any medium have a need of sunlight, or at least the promise of it. Percussionist Laurence Pike is one third of Szun Waves, a jazzy crossover act whose emergence has been widely acclaimed. On his second solo album Pike is in thrall to spring, the harbinger of summer, though it feels as much a homage to existence itself. Perhaps more so when we consider Pike's previous effort, Distant Early Warning (The Leaf Label, 2018), with its nervous scratchings about digital life. Holy Spring sees Pike take his demons for an airing in mystic greenery, finding solace and the divine en route.
Pike worked quickly, with just a pad sampler and drums for company, developing the melodic strains in four weeks, then recording the album live in one day. In spirit it might reside with Art Blakey's Orgy In Rhythm Volume One and Volume Two (both Blue Note, 1957) or much of Mickey Hart's visionary output.
If some of Pike's track titles seem rather obvious, his compositions are anything but. The whole concept of a drum-based album rises here from its apparent limits, with a reminder that rhythm is largely what moves us in music. In both senses. "Mystic Circles" sets a shivery tone, with random beats like some pre-ritual warm up. It's as if someone traced ceremonial echoes in the earth around Stonehenge then added a pulsing synth. Later on, the closing cut "Rites" evokes a similar dark cosmogony.
"Daughter Of Mars" brings energised yet dreamy shafts, whilst Pike brushes cymbals or merely tip-taps them. "Dance Of The Earth" is all shifting shapes and luminous breaths, then "Transire" reminds us how Pike performs with intensity, rather than ferocity, at his kit. This piece offers sensual tussles, quiet crashes and bird-like peckingssomehow industrial and rural at once.
"Drum Chant" could be an English folk-horror soundtrack with its flute-like refrain, urgent gaspings and flurry of beats. Another uncanny backdrop greets the tinkling title track, before "The Shock Of Hope" croaks and warbles into some unworldly realm, where dinging bells try to impose order. What might be ancient tally sticks come rattling and rolling into "Taught By Spirits" amid more polyrhythmic bustle.
If the physical world knows things we cannot know, then this arcane album seeks to read nature's runes. The rites of Holy Spring cast a lusty and sylvan spell.
Mystic Circles; Daughter Of Mars; Dance Of The Earth; Transire; Drum Chant; Holy Spring; The Shock Of
Hope; Taught By Spirits; Rites.
Laurence Pike: drums, percussion, drum pad sampler.
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