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Martin Fabricius Trio: Out of the White

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The opening sounds of the title track of Out of the White herald that this is going to be something different. Electronic sounds begin the track, but closer listening reveals that these are being made ingeniously by Martin Fabricius' vibes. Bassist Christian Hougaard Nielsen enters, stating the theme supported by the quasi-electronic vibe sounds. Fabricius takes over to recap the theme now as a recognizable vibraphonist. At the turnaround, Mathias Heise adds his harmonica to the mix, eventually with drummer Jacob Hatholt setting up an unexpected lilting world-rhythm aided by Neff Irizarry's perfect comping. "Out of the White" turns out to imply sand, not snow.

All of the above happens within the first ninety seconds, completely overturning any preconceived notions about what a Danish trio (with guests) is going to sound like. Fabricius has known Hougaard and Irizarry since the nineties, Heise for the last eight years and Hatholt has been in the trio since 2011. Thus, his band knows his particular musical personality and brand of composition. Each tune (all written by Fabricius) tells its own story and has its own sound, but the album most decidedly has a unifying style.

Each musician is a virtuoso in his own right, with the sound produced when all are playing extremely attractive and ingratiating. No lead instrument is played in a conventional manner, especially Fabricius, who many times uses extreme sustain to envelop the other players with a shimmering curtain of sound.

The set is made up nine five to six minute vignettes, little stories that are internally consistent, yet which are quite different from one another, changing moods in unexpected ways. Each creates its own sound world; each builds in intensity, changing the space, only to recede.

What is this music? The sound of a harmonica always has a French feel, and many of the rhythms created are vaguely of "world music" (but the band can lay down a very cool swing as in "Brother Pine"). Fabricius produces as many sounds from the vibes as he does melodic lines, and the arrangements many times evoke the happy/sad feeling of a Fellini film.

After taking us on a trip through eight musical stories, Out of the White ends with "A New Beginning" which belongs in Big Sky country of the American West, just the place to complete the journey.

Ending with a piece which paints a very clear picture of open space is emblematic of what Fabricius and his band has achieved: telling stories which create large spaces within individually unique musical miniatures.

The effect is very refreshing and joyous, with excitement created without pyrotechnics, but by the use of exquisite control within a feeling of freedom.

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