Phantasma Trio Vol. 1 features nine Coyle originals with two additional tracks on the vinyl version. The album opens with "Reflections of Fog (I)," a concise, external piano narrative, accented by Hirlinger's unsettling stick work. Part II of that composition appears later in the program, more fully fleshed out,. The album begins to kick in with "Men of Steal"; the centerpiece of Phantasma Trio Vol. 1. Picking up on the dark theme of its precursor, it quickly explodes into a kinetic celebration. It is the first track in which we can fully appreciate Coyle's bass playing and the flawless interaction of the trio. "Refractions" finds Hirlinger reciting a passage written by Coyle. The music appropriately jumps and breaks like light through parallel planes. "Glacial Erratic," another gem on this album, is lifted by Stabinsky's delicate touch, and grounded with Coyle's deep, woody bass. On the languid "Ocean Time" Coyle takes up the bow supplying a meditative contrast to the shimmering piano. The appealing closing piece, "A New Ending For," migrates from lament to sonnet, to psalm.
Coyle is a gifted and diverse composer and plays in a style reminiscent of Darek Oles but with a distinct edge and authority. Stabinsky is the focal point of most of these pieces and, as he has demonstrated for some time, a world-class pianist. The remarkable dexterity and adaptability of Hirlinger weaves a consistent thread through all of these interesting pieces. The tracks on Phantasma Trio Vol. 1 sometimes fade out as if incomplete ideas. That is probably due to the pandemic conditions in which the album came together, and is a relatively small nit-pick about a fine album.
Reflections of Fog (I); Art in Person; Return to the Ocean; Men of Steal; Refractions; Glacial Erratic; Ocean Time; Reflections of Fog (II); A New Ending For.
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