As the crow flies but not straightforward, Sacramento experimentalists, and their friends from JAPAN, searching for an immediate means of transportation.
After a decade-long ascent to the top of the style with his solo project, Martin Birke, a maven of ambient sonics and electronic percussion, continues to find new methods of conceptualizing a groove. This time, fascinated with “things, ideas, concepts that provide the straightest line between point A to B” and having called a bunch of guests under the band’s banner, Birke has fashioned an aural reflection of the ways to get there. The results are often transcendental, what with melancholic clanging and a ghost of Jon Hassell’s trumpet bringing the title of “Metanoia” to life, yet the spiritual element is hidden, in plain view, even in the most intense pieces, although the tension of “God Fearing Men” is rooted in its dynamics, and Matt Malley’s menace over a memorable message, rather than the cut’s inherent gloom.
That’s why, despite its dance direction, “Denizen Darklight” doesn’t hold a lot of movement, while Richard Barbieri’s mix brings out the sense of urgency anger in “Fix Me Deeper” for Manal Deeb to contrast it with a calm reciting of Arabic lines. And that’s why melodious peal leads a listener into the realm of rhythm, where “Nightfalls” is swelling to roll synthesizer waves over the reefs of Mick Karn’s bass before the ripples from Steve Jansen’s piano propel the song towards a taut vibe and Lesley Braden’s deadpan delivery of well-weighed words. Still, the pregnant pulsing of it all may point to a transitory nature of this engine’s endeavor, and not for nothing the album finale is “The Waiting Station”: a transparent ebb of beats and vocal harmonies.
But the passing phase is precious exactly because it’s gone before you noticed it; the music is there to be reliving a valuable moment time and again.