Two British minds and an entire infantry of guests are responsible for the vast array of sounds and shapes resounding through Prism-a-Ning. Going by the name of According to the Sound, pianist Adam Parry-Davies and guitarist Patrick Case have assembled an eclectic collection of tunes which bridge the gaps between fusion, electronica and funk. The first stages of this music took form in Birmingham before the material was recorded in Bristol and finally mixed and mastered in London, forming the triangle alluded to in the Thelonious Monk-borrowed title of the record.
Perry-Davies' piano work may not be of a virtuoso nature, it does however fulfill its very aesthetic function to create a through-designed atmosphere. Accordingly, the opener finds the pianist going through haunting changes. The initial dryness of the arpeggios turns hazier as the song progresses until a delayed sustain transitions into a psychedelic loop which invites soft saxophones to take the reins. Fittingly titled, "Bringing Fusion" picks up where the opener left off and sees Sam Shotaka on saxophone jamming to a tight bass-defined loop, reminiscent of a cross between lounge music and 90s trip-hop. "Controlling the Line" and "Goin' Off" follow in the same footsteps, combining beat with electronically-manipulated jazz aesthetics which seem as suitable for a grown-up dinner-party as for more adolescent night fairs. Long tracks "Heading West" and "Splitting the Beam" see the two composers go fusion all the way. Drum shuffles meet brass sections, leading into thumping bass lines which are complemented by fusion sax solos if there ever was such a thing. The latter of the two is pretty much one entire drum workout, aptly putting the virtuoso chops of Jake Goldbass on display. Syncopations of any kind are tricks he plays in his sleep.
Next to a homogenous sound, variety in style and pace is another common denominator found in this set of music. "Feet off the seat" takes a turn towards the acid side of jazz to some pace, while "Hackney Downs" segways from breakbeat to more rootsy rhythmic exercises with a samba feel. The final numbers on the record are more sparsely instrumented; "Gardens" and "Arrival" both echo the opener in the way an intimate saxophone monologue is accompanied by subtle piano changes, before "Furnace Track"a not so hidden secret trackends on a full-on electronic note, clashing guitar-programming with synthesizers and piano samples.
At the end, Perry-Davies and Case have created a crisp set of tunes which engage the listener enough to stay interested throughout, but at the same time remain in a relaxed state of mind. When most of the instruments fade and the focus turns to the piano, the depth of these composers' vision is at its most apparent and, for just a brief moment in time, one is placed decades back and wrapped in sweet nostalgia.
An Early Train South; Bringing Fusion; Controlling the Line; Goin' Off; Lillypad Railway; Heading West;
Splitting the Beam; Feet off the Seat; Hackney Downs; Gardens; Arrival; Furnace Track.
Adam Parry-Davies: piano, Fender Rhodes, keys; Patrick Case: guitar, programming; Garry Alesbrook: trumpet, flugelhorn; James Morton: saxophone; Sam Shotaka: saxophone; James Carter: saxophone; Chad Leftkowitz-
Brown: saxophone; Mike Rodriguez: trumpet; Jake Goldbrass: drums; Otto Hashmi: bass; Adam King: bass.
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