The third outing from British bassist Dominic Lash's Quartet continues in the vein of its predecessors, Opabinia (Babellabel, 2013) and Extremophile (Iluso, 2017), in respect of its eclecticism, but if anything is even more cohesive and successful as a result. Lash's crew remains unchanged comprising Alex Ward on electric guitar, and the Spanish pairing of Ricardo Tejero on alto saxophone and Javier Carmona on drums. The album, presenting a 2019 live performance from north London's Cafe Oto, constitutes the inaugural release on the bassist's Spoonhunt imprint, and gets the label off to a splendid start.
Lash casts his net widely in terms of inspiration, from the heavy metal riff and squealing alto of "Alexithymia," to the walking bass buoying up a saxophone and guitar line equal parts convoluted and minimalist of "Dactyloscopy," to the uneasy melancholy of "From A Theme By F.S." (based on a work by Franz Schubert). Although tracked separately, all but the last track are part of an unbroken sequence. The band's skill and familiarity with Lash's methods mean that the transitions don't jar and, if not smooth, seem nonetheless inevitable. Carmona's drum solo which links the last two cuts mentioned shows how it is done, moving imperceptibly from rhythmic to tonal as he presages the change in mood.
Switchbacks come not only between numbers but within them, with none content to linger within defined genre boundaries. A case in point is "Cylindrical" which, although it starts out in slow reflective territory, somehow morphs into a nervy wriggling mass by the close. Similarly ,"Isthmus" begins with an abraded drone, emerging from the leader's arco smears and glissando which end the previous piece, before taking on an unsettled momentum complete with choppy alto and guitar scrawl, leading to a crisp final unison. With execution as accomplished and wide ranging as the conception, this is the group's definitive statement to date.
Alexithymia; Cylindrical; Dactyloscopy; From a theme by F.S.; Isthmus; Improvisation/Structures