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Album Review

Ikarus: Plasma

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Ikarus: Plasma
While they have an ambition worthy of their mythological namesake, this Ikarus is in no danger of melting and crashing after flying too high. Their exuberance is a little less wild yet, in its own way, no less adventurous. This quintet melds the sum of its minimalist parts into something transcendent yet always understated. Without needing to shoot for the sky, they look for a subtler kind of euphoria in gliding.

For music which is essentially minimalist, it still has quite its own share of variety. Anna Hirsch and Andreas Lareida's wordless lead voices are fluid and versatile as ever, flowing, floating, switching between the high and low roles, playing with percussives, or not-quite-scatting in an expressive way which almost feels too direct for language. Like the other instruments (bass, piano and percussion), they somehow sound painstakingly precise even though the pieces are built throughout with breathing space to improvise. The entire quintet locks together in the same manner; the rhythms can build to gamelan-level complexity, yet they sound like they are intuitively dancing as much as counting or calculating.

The arrangements, such as hopscotching between rhythmic patterns from measure to measure or having instruments take turns dropping in and out, give everyone time to be heard. The feeling of continual ebb and flow is somewhat more at the center than on 2019's Mosaismic (Ronin Rhythm Records). The extensive patterns go through continual permutations, always shifting from one pattern to another gradually enough that it feels like one amorphous groove for forty solid minutes.

There are similar small changes behind the band's approach to the entire recording. These pieces were grown among all five members with everyone collectively feeling out their shape more than they had before. There is more attention to detail in the actual sounds, from the range of vocal techniques to Mo Meyer's tapping and string-sawing to make his double bass feel not entirely acoustic (though it is). In the same way, Plasma itself is a bundle of tiny shifts and changes, definitely familiar, while showing how their evolution is always subtle yet insistent.

Track Listing

Tritium; Isblink; Sessapinae; Cocoro; Altaelva

Personnel

Ramón Oliveras: drums; Anna Hirsch: voice / vocals; Andreas Lareida: voice / vocals; Lucca Fries: piano; Mo Meyer: bass, acoustic.

Album information

Title: Plasma | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Ronin Rhythm Records

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