Making a welcome return in a leader rôle, Ivo Neame's follow-up to his excellent album Strata (Whirlwind, 2015), sees him taking a slightly different approach to his previous two quintet and octet configurated recordings. His cannily idiosyncratic music is also obviously divergent to those found on recordings with Phronesis and saxophonist Marius Neset, to which he makes vital contributions.
The instantly engaging opener, "Vegetarians," benefits from a spiralling, memorable hook and saxophonist George Crowley keenly makes his mark with sumptuous tenor work. Things take a calmer turn with "Moksha Music" but not without surprising twists and turns such as Neame's vibrant piano solo interlaced with spooky synthesizer effects which also make an appearance, appropriately enough, on "Ghost Shadow."
"Pala" returns to more effervescence with Neame and Crowley excitingly swapping lines at a breakneck pace. More electronica embellishes the limpid start to "Laika" which midway takes a more complex turn, all held together by James Maddren's taught drumming. The outro "Blimp" perfectly characterises Neame's compositional strategy, juxtaposing languid sections with irrepressibly exuberant ones.
Neame scores highly here with yet another remarkable recording, replete with labyrinthine compositions executed by a totally focussed quartet. The album's title, incidentally, is taken from the Sanskrit word Saṃsāra which, roughly translated, means the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
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