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Michele Rabbia - Gianluca Petrella - Eivind Aarset: Lost River

Geno Thackara By

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There is a bewitching soundscape from a group of subtle and skilled aural sculptors on this beautifully abstract ECM Records session. The players' backgrounds touch on jazz, electronics, European folk and much more, but none of that really matters here. Their approach on Lost River is free of form and convention in the most liberating sense. That doesn't mean they go atonal or meander going nowhere as some free jazz does; it does mean their open-ended improvisations create an immersive experience which is refreshingly not recognizable as any particular style or, often, as conventional music at all.

The textural possibilities of the guitar are always central to Eivind Aarset's playing and, having recorded with minimalist trumpeters such as Jon Hassell and Nils Petter Molvaer in the past, he doubtlessly feels right at home floating and coasting alongside Gianluca Petrella's trombone. The two occasionally build simple motifs with actual notes but, for the most part, use their instruments to make pure sounds which drift and slowly spin in the current. The overall tone is a ghostly one, the kind which is invitingly mysterious more often than not—although they do briefly veer toward unsettling in the odd moment like "Styx." Everyone listens closely and follows each idea together, however sparse; the pieces aren't precisely written or directed, but they are a long way from aimless as well.

The pervasive water theme here couldn't be more fitting for the trio's patient natural ebb and swirl in sound. Michele Rabbia's percussion is light and subtle as droplets pattering across the still surface of a lake. He sits back to let Aarset carry "Flood" with washes of echo guitar; a woodblock-like sound takes the lead on "What the Water Brings" in a skittering cascade of little taps. With "Nimbus" or "Fluvius," Petrella's horn is closest to a lead, though it never escapes the others' alluring atmospheric fog. Lost River would be an excellent soundtrack for insomniacs, people trying to meditate or just anyone happy to leave the world outside for a while—a calm work suited to wee-hours quietude and dreaminess without actual dreaming.

Track Listing: Nimbus; Flood; What Floats Beneath; Lost River; Styx; Night Sea Journey; Fluvius; What The Water Brings; Flotsam; Wadi.

Personnel: Michele Rabbia: drums, electronics; Gianluca Petrella: trombone, sounds; Eivind Aarset: guitar, electronics.

Title: Lost River | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: ECM Records

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