CD REVIEW: Martin Pyne - Behind the mist



Martin Pyne - Behind the mist
(Tall Guy Records TGCD007. CD review by Mike Collins


This solo, improvised set on vibraphone by Martin Pyne comes with an advisory: ‘This music is mostly very quiet and should not be over-amplified’. Taking the injunction seriously, I retreated to a quiet room with noise cancelling headphones.

Listen closely and the music swirls and envelops. Nine pieces, inspired we are told, by tales of faeries from the British Isles, unfold and conjure atmospheres, using only the vibes, the very occasional hint of live electronic manipulation of the sound and Pyne’s imagination and speed of thought; each piece was a live improvisation recorded in one take.

Niamh of the Golden Hair tiptoes in. Single notes bloom and hang in the air. Little flurries introduce movement, but the spaces grow and create a sense of anticipation. Yarthkin rustles and patters across the octaves, suddenly bursting into rhythm before sliding away into the mist. Behind the mist plays with call and response and echoes. Repeating motifs and echoes create an insistent momentum with ideas emerging, changing shape and evaporating only to return. Asrai returns repeatedly to a ghostly wow in the lower register in between contrasting skitters and runs. In Spriggans patterns dance around a recurring rhythmic pulse. Minimal electronica in Changeling introduce mystery, before more scampering, teasing and enticing phrases in Will o the Wisp quicken the pulse.

These pieces, together with tenth based on one of Pyne’s own themes, Song for Grace Melbury, are spontaneously improvised, an adventure embarked on apparently after some LUME music sessions. His composer’s sense of development is strong throughout. There’s a conversational feel to them, with a sense of structure and development unfolding with every piece. The production makes the most of the distinctive, delicate nuances of the vibraphone sound. This is as the advisory declares, quiet music, but it is enthralling painting alluring pictures in sound.

Mike Collins is a pianist and writer based in Bath, who runs the jazzyblogman site. Twitter @jazzyblogman

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