Perhaps one of the more important drummers in global improvisation circles, Tom Rainey's discography as a sideman, for example, could read like a history of postmodern jazz, spanning conventional and nonconforming practices. He's a fluid drummer who subdivides the rhythmical element into fragments while tap-dancing across the kit, shaded with lyrical qualities and offbeat digressions, as the list goes on. On this trio date, he aligns with cutting-edge artists Mary Halvorson (guitar) and Ingrid Laubrock (saxophones), for a series of loosely designed improvisational jaunts, where space and counter-maneuvers are but a few of many rewarding attributes evidenced throughout.
The trio incorporates several paradigms into the grand schema. In addition, the studio processing helps instill a broad plane as the artists dissect and redesign core themes. Halvorson's distortion techniques and off-the-radar phrasings often generate a reverse-engineering effect, as the lack of a bassist in these instances generate a pristine soundscape where nuances come to light in prominent fashion. But situations come to a head during a few frenzied moments, brimming with angst-ridden breakouts.
Rainey peppers a flirtatious theme on "Mr. and Mrs. Mundane treated with Laubrock's popping notes and Halvorson's sinuous voicings as the band throttles the pitch while Rainey's sweeping grooves help widen the overall outlook. In other spots, the trio morphs patchy storylines with minimalist notions, and venture into ethereal territory during "Strada senza nome." However, it's an album brooding with diametric contrasts, evidenced on the scrappy and zestful, "Leapfrog." They also delve into the avant-rock realm on the bursting "Fluster," via the guitarist's fuzz-toned riffs and Rainey's polyrhythmic flurries.
As anticipated, the musicians keep the listener on the edge via a recurring element of surprise, where no two works sound intimately alike. It's a testament to the art of improvisation conducted by three musicians who possess idiosyncratic voices, armed with boundless creative proclivities.