Pretty unradio-friendly given the length of the tracks, each of the three clocks in at more than 20 minutes, the middle piece ‘Spartan Before It Hit’ ups the core trio ante by adding strings, the piano of Craig Taborn, and extra guitars. This is deftly exploratory improvising, Torn and Berne dancing around airy, tense fragments that summon a certain menace and this album overall has plenty of severity about it, an open feeling too thanks often to the way rhythm is sub divided or just shrinks back, and a sense that the trio are playing without any safety net. While easy to admire it is harder to fully embrace, yes the pieces are too long and there is a good deal of development that does not necessarily deliver the impact that this trio is capable of. The middle piece with the extra players is where the album really comes alive so go there first. SG

When Sting guitarist Dominic Miller was first signed to ECM I must confess a sharp intake of breath. Nowadays on his second release for the label, a Mediterranean baked wistful affair, it just seems so obvious. Manu Katché on drums adds beef to the mix which includes the gorgeously evocative bandoneon of Santiago Arias. Miller has plenty of personality up front, the bass of Nicolas Fiszman laidback enough to give him room while Mike Lindup’s spacey keyboards do not intrude. Recorded in a French studio a year ago tracks are kept quite short, at just under six minutes tops, all the tunes are Miller’s and they fall into what I’d call Metheny pastoral, nothing too twee or sweet but certainly provided with enough melodicism to tug the heartstrings. All in all? A really pleasant album that grows on every play and shows Miller’s writing as much as his superlative playing touch in the very best light. SG