Six years since the release of his first solo piano album reviewed here pianist Alexander Hawkins switches from Babel to Intakt for this latest recording venture which is titled Iron Into Wind (cover above) to be released next month by the Swiss label. Hawkins says in a brief description on his website: “All original compositions; liner notes by Richard Williams; immaculately recorded by Martin Pearson in the studios of the Swiss radio, Zürich, in September 2018.”
A 2015 studio recording of freely improvised, spontaneously composed music performed by drummer Terry Day whose career has embraced such wildly divergent milestones as appearances with Kilburn and the Highroads and Derek Bailey, Dominic Lash known for his work with Alexander Hawkins playing double bass, and the Mopomoso guitarist/clarinettist Alex Ward.
The track titles have a sense to them although knowledge of what they mean is not at all compulsory or even that relevant however if curious they relate to the geology of the sea and to marine biology so ‘Bathyal’ is a term that relates to zonal sea depths between the continental shelf and the abyssal zone; ‘Abyssal’ refers to ocean depth of 3,000-6,000m; ‘Hadal’ are sea depths of more than 6000m; ‘Zoobenthos’ refers to sea bed organisms; and ‘Phytobenthos’ are plant or algae organisms.
As to how it sounds? Well this is very un-noisy free improv. There is a lot of contemplative open work at play and one of the great strengths of the record is how the three play a great deal together and so the collective nature of their bandplay is far greater than on some records which divide down into long duo or solo episodes.
A very fibrous record, meaning that there is a real sense of natural instruments at work, in other words a physical sense of finger on string or stick on skin, the mechanics of the sound operating very much from a point of view where notions of tone, exact rhythm or metrical divisions do not matter in the least and yet the improvising lines are not difficult to follow or hostile. On ‘Hadal’ Lash really comes into his own and throughout his role is vital. Midnight and Below builds cell on cell: a sense of mystery, fecundity and wild growth feeds a wider eco-system as part of the spell. Beyond experimentation this sounds more about putting long held ideas into effect and proving how well they work in performance. SG