Canadian bassist Alex Fournier takes inspiration from some of the best, most notably bassist/cellist/composer Andrew Downing and bassist/composer Michael Formanek. Both of these mentors sit outside the mainstream, but not far off, within spitting distance we might say. Six-ish Plateaus, by Fournier's Triiowhich is not a trio but rather a sextetexplores the hybrid of written material and energized freedom with two reeds, guitar and vibraphone, drums and bass line-up.
Distinction of sound is a key here. The vibraphone and guitar expand the sustain element. The compositions, all by Fournier, contain an appealing oddness. "An Intrepid Toad" opens the disc; the title is as strange as the music. What is written and what has gone down in the moment? Hard to figure, and it does not matter much. "Toad" begins with a spare, sticky guitar riff and jumps to life as the band bursts in the door, going into full forward motions with near-orchestral harmony, the sound always teetering on the edge, in a program the favors group interplay over solo pyrotechnics.
The title tune slithers into a mysterious groove with an understated guitar/bass/drums conversation, soon joined by a two-reed rumination, with the vibes adding to the luminescent backdrop.
This is a textural sound, expertly crafted by familiar instruments into something unfamiliarfrom the group's seat-of-the-pants playing and/or the pre-planning in the arrangements, or (probably) a combination of the two.
"Tragic Leisure" could serve as a soundtrack to a Twilight Zone entrance into another dimension, where shapes are distorted, bent and pulled like bread doughs in a world of muted colors, and no concept of time. The closer, "Saltlick City," has the shadowy allure of an early 1950s noir movie, where someone steals the money, and someone gets killed.
An Intrepid Toad; Six-ish Plateaus; Addenda/Agenda; Tragic Leisure; Saltlick City.
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