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Album Review

Triio: Six-ish Plateaus

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Triio: Six-ish Plateaus
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 Triio—which is not a trio but rather a sextet—explores 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 unfamiliar—from 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.

Track Listing

An Intrepid Toad; Six-ish Plateaus; Addenda/Agenda; Tragic Leisure; Saltlick City.

Personnel

Alex Fournier: bass; Naomi McCarroll-Butler: saxophone; Tom Fleming: guitar; Michael Davidson: vibraphone; Stefan Hegerat: drums; Bea Labikova: saxophone, alto.

Additional Instrumentation

Bea Labikove: alto sax, soprano sax; Naomi McCarrol-Butler: Clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone.

Album information

Title: Six-ish Plateaus | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Elastic Records


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