3 Valve Music 2015
Ambient trip from famed jazz reedman who doesn’t blow his trumpet – well, almost – as he rolls the sound around the ears.
He may joke about trying to crawl out of his younger brother Pat’s shadow, but while Mike Metheny hardly has anything to prove to the outside world, there’s something inside of the flugelhorn player that makes him progress through changes. This album, Mike’s twelfth if we count a collaborative one, signals his most radical metamorphosis, though, as 9 out of its 10 cuts contain no brass lick, with only “Home” to briefly feature Metheny’s main instrument. Still, “radical” can’t be the right word do describe what’s happening, in an elusive motion, in a series of soundscapes created by keyboards which the artist used before yet never in a leading role – leading to the edge of conscious.
Clear melodies lurk somewhere in the space between an initial ominous buzz and the apologetic piano of “Amen” but, hidden in the overall haziness, those snippets are to be hunted down, so here’s a quest of sorts to keep the listeners on their toes. When “Clouds” unfolds with delicate rumble its silver lining is rather palpable, yet bluesy riffs running across mesmeric percussion in “Catharsis” harden the surface and purify the flow in a contrast to “Carousel” that has fashioned a lachrymose fusion out of the composer’s memories. The sparse sparkle on “Transition” hinting at an otherworldly experience is where the edge gets blurry again, for almost 7 minutes of glacial glide, albeit it’s a truly breaking point where a final uplift starts.
Is this a farewell of sorts? Hopefully, not. But if a trip down memory lane is a way to clear a route forward, this album reaches its goal perfectly.