Smudging the margins, rock-fisted drummer Karl-Juhan Laanesaar crashes into the symmetrical meditation of young Estonian pianist Madis Muul's "We Have Found Water" and changes the music's fate (from ballad to pensive electronica and back again) before closing on a ferocious little jam which surrenders to a quiet reprieve.
That is just for openers for The Guide, the lushly cinematic debut by LUUM. "Secret Creek" finds Muul fully embracing both the ranging rhythmic Zen of Nik Bärtsch and the late 20th century romanticism of Esbjorn Svensson. "First Steps" might be heard as a flowery, idealistic gambol (thanks mostly to flautist Markus-Anthony Eermann's feathery whim) but Muul keeps pulling him back to the side of the street that is a bit less sunny.
Every young composer gets lulled into a sense of grander classicism at some point in their ascendency and "The Poet" is Muul's bout. The music swells and lingers in all the right poetic places until thankfully giving way to the ballsy taffy pull "A Place Where the Sun Sets Twice." Muul and trumpeter Allan Jarveis run rampant here, flashing Spanish bullring bravado one moment and a martial sense of farce the next. It is a cool trick that has not been heard since the heyday of early Genesis or King Crimson. And just for merry fortune, the tune takes a great bop turn around the 6:50 mark too. That it sets the stage for the Bill Evans bred poetry of "Autumn In Ungru" is just a bonus and a real open setting for bassist Andres Alaru to flash his inner Scott LaFaro. The album's title track fervently closes The Guide, but opens us all up to the sounds of new thinkers. Give it a spin.
We have Found Water; Secret Creek; First Steps; The Poet; A Place Where the Sun Sets Twice;
Autumn in Ungru; The Guide.
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