Back in the dying days of October we reported that pianist Ivo Neame had teamed up with drummer/vibist Jim Hart for a duo project. “The album took two and a half years to finish and involved some extremely long drives for me between London and Alsace; drives which I undertook in a Ford Fiesta loaded with all kinds of keyboards,” said Ivo at the time.
While billed as a duo, poor old Matt Calvert does not get his name on the cover. Might he be miffed? Perhaps. He does after all provide synths, sampling, electronics and other inputs. Multiverse is quite a dense listen and I suppose that is what an album that has lots of production layers involving lots of electronics tends to project. That is to its advantage, just to point out, not to its detriment. The album does pivot away from the overly complex at key points and shortcircuits possible elephant traps by not forgetting about intimacy.
Neame sounds quite different to anything that I've heard him on before and Hart, last heard playing Dublin with Bex Burch and Tom Herbert just before Christmas in the band Vula Viel, again is a chameleon. 'The Exchange' drives a Chick Corea-like routine that goes deeper the more you listen; 'Au Contraire' plays with stillness; 'Room 1003' is song-like and unveils Neame's clarinet playing.
I see this album as an experiment and a calling card for both players who are moving into new areas. Both are serious composers and maybe the future will see their stature as such grow ever more in this direction. Certainly the signs are there. 'Serie de Arco' perhaps finds the album as its most distinctive as Hart reaches for mallets and Neame moving in and out of avant garde space converse obliquely. 'Transference' has a unique motif to start proceedings and the ''Multiversers'' spin several plates at once in a dazzling routine. 'Back Home' is personal and this is where the trio really find their own space, in a quiet world of interiors that only they know. All of the above contributes to a very fine debut. SG
On Edition. Out now.