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Busnoys: Weaving The Spell

Bruce Lindsay By

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Sometimes the world is easy to understand. Mostly, it's a puzzle. Take magic, for example—how does that work? Ask Busnoys, a vibes/bass guitar/drums trio from Bristol in England's West Country. The band seems to have at least some insight into the workings of magic. Its third album, Weaving The Spell, is full of relaxed, spacious, charms that draw the listener into the band's unique and lovely sound world.

Much of the music on Weaving The Spell—composed by bandleader and vibes player Martin Pyne—is inspired by stories and legends such as Homer's Odyssey ("Nocturne") and Arthurian legend ("Weaving The Spell"). Pyne acknowledges comparisons between Busnoys and Nordic jazz artists, but while the Bristol band shares the spaciousness and calm of much of the Nordic sound its own music feels much warmer, more intimate and somehow more comforting.

"Shadow Dance" is a fine example of this mix of space and warmth, bass guitarist/producer Jeff Spencer and drummer Trevor Davies displaying admirable economy while Pyne's ringing vibes hold the attention with an immediately engaging melody. "Barr Line"—named for ex-Busnoys bass guitarist and Weaving The Spell recording engineer Jim Barr—ups the energy quotient and the tempo while "Making The Point" shows Pyne in uncharacteristically assertive mood, his vibes given a harder, more staccato, tone. Pyne adds occasional electronics to the sound, but does so sparingly and sensitively—"Barr Line" and the edgy "Nocturne" are the tunes that benefit most from such additions.

Busnoys' calmness is exemplified by the exquisite "The Education Of Little Tree," with Pyne's delicate, sweet, melody underpinned by Spencer and Davies' perfectly-judged rhythms. On "Weaving The Spell" the trio is joined by violinist and vocalist Gina Griffin—the result is a song that mixes its surface beauty with undercurrents of something more mysterious and mythical.

Weaving The Spell, like previous album By Tapering Torchlight (Tall Guy Records, 2012), closes with its sole cover version. This time its Bill Carey and Carl Fischer's classic "You've Changed," a solo performance from Pyne filled with sustained notes and strong on melody.

The title of this gorgeous and inventive recordings is rather inaccurate. Busnoys weaves many spells on Weaving The Spell, each one a masterclass in the creation of atmospheric musical imagery. If A Midsummer Night's Dream ever needs a new soundtrack, Busnoys might be the band to deliver it.

Track Listing: Walking To Himmelvanger; Making The Point; Weaving The Spell; Shadow Dance; Barr Line; The Education Of Little Tree; Nocturne; You've Changed.

Personnel: Martin Pyne: vibraphone, electronics; Jeff Spencer: bass guitar; Trevor Davies: drums; Gina Griffin: violin, vocals (3).

Title: Weaving The Spell | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Tall Guy Records

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