Labyrinth 1978 / Esoteric 2013
The title says it all: Canadian trio go for an in-line trip to macrocosm and microcosm.
It may sound like a good idea – to play a long piece live and mix it in real time to take the tape element out of recording process, and for their second album FM embraced this opportunity wholeheartedly, without thinking much of it resulting in another limited edition run, just like it was, albeit for different reason, on the band’s debut. But then, the result sounds good indeed. On the one hand, there’s a no-overdubs immediacy to the music, but on the other everything was polished to be delivered without roughness that a concert environment allows for. Fortunately, with newcomer Ben Mink’s violin laying melodic lines alongside Cameron Hawkins’s bass and the latter sharing an array of synthesizers with Martin Deller, everything became possible, so the two compositions, one per LP side, reflect the ensemble’s original intent brilliantly.
The five-part “Headroom” is launched with a high-velocity interplay where the rhythm section goes for the jugular before the fiddle turns the tide to more romantic, chamber vibe and Deller’s congas adds a tribal feel to it. Yet once it acquires a spaced-out quality, Hawkins starts to sing, while folk tones don’t leave prog waters completely, and once in a while drums give other instruments a break for a recharge that expands the initial boundaries. Such a growing scope ends with a wildly rocking equivalent of the Big Bang to give way to a jazzier, though slicker, “Border Crossing”, the four movements of which are more loose in the sense of meter, if closer to hard rock, and more glossy arrangement-wise, as keyboards take on guitar mode. But it’s there that’s the most abstract passages dwell in the space between sequencers and tuned percussion that welcomes symphonic sway in its swing and, right in the middle and with a march, spreads the wings of a “simple” song and leads through an improvisational mindfield to the pulse of actual brainwave. Cerebral? Surely. But magnetic.