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Andersen; Arild/Vinaccia; Paolo/Smith; Tommy: Mira

Having impressed many with their 2008 debut Live At Belleville, the trio of double bassist Arild Andersen, percussionist Paolo Vinaccia and saxophonist Tommy Smith head off into darker, deeper territory with their first studio offering, Mira. With most of what is created here being thoughtful and considered, energetic isn't necessarily a word you'd expect to hear describe it. However the energy between the expansive, yet ultra-focused bass excursions from Andersen, the drippingly laid backed relaxed sax and the barely here to keep time drum caresses, rather to add colour, is tangible. The three elements come together beautifully, yet collide head on almost simultaneously, combining a deep sympathy for what each of the band members hear their compatriots conjure, but in a way that challenges the norm. All the while though, the pace is, as often as not, more a listless meander than a forceful stride.

It takes a skilled ear to push such languid themes into vital territory, and that's exactly what transpires, with solo spots, especially from Smith, bringing a melancholy that pierces through to leave moments that genuinely make the listener stop and think. It is a skill demonstrated often across the eleven tracks on show, which are in general (and quite cleverly) reined in and devoid of flash, or sparkle. Instead a guile and knowing confidence provide the hooks that draw in the ear and keep you on your toes, even though some of the musical transitions can be far from straight forward and often at odds with what was anticipated. Yet cohesion is paramount.

Andersen is also credited with "electronics", yet these aspects are decidedly low key and never the driving force, while Smith also very sparingly utilises shakuhachi (a traditionally bamboo Japanese meditation flute) to soothe the edges of already sliding passages.

Made up of a collection of distinct and separate tracks, Mira is an album which weaves its most potent spell in one continuous sitting, creating a thick, heady atmosphere that feels at the same time relaxed and seductively indulgent. It is this and many more contradictions, which make it the success it undoubtedly is.

Track Listing
1. Bygone
2. Blussy
3. Alfie
4. Rossetti
5. Reparate
6. Raijin
7. Le Saleya
8. Kangiten
9. Mira
10. Eight and More
11. Stevtone

Added: April 8th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Arild Andersen Online
Hits: 1332
Language: english

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