Often disappointed by cover artwork on albums?
Fear not that isn't an off putting factor in this case. Gaze upon Reineke Hollander's cover of Drum of Stories, the main image that looks like an old manuscript overlaid by tiny fragments of bright, intense, beacon like colours that rain down as if the page has become a windowpane glistening like a waterfall. Because the image certainly is against the odds a good encouragement to turn the page and actually listen. Swimming on an ocean of sound where nearly everything else sinks without a trace the image is a message in a bottle and an antidote to being turned off by ubiquitous imagery flashed in front of us all the time in a modern age.
Drum of Stories recorded last summer in a studio in the western French city of Poitiers comes alive with colour metaphorically speaking in an intense battle of feverish drumming against piano and a pristine guitar backdrop on 'Tower of Liars' after a swooning Ry Cooder-esque woozy opening, the second of 7 pieces that inhabit a prog jazz sphere and the polyrhythmical 'Spells' contains some of the main business here in terms of a journey into a trance like fusion universe touched upon featuring the guitar of Mahan Mirarab.
The voice of Greta Thunberg crops up on 'Map of the Future' not at all jarringly. Shaped around a core trio of US drummer John Hadfield, French pianist Grégory Privat best known for his work with Lars Danielsson and Canadian bassist Chris Jennings heard this year on Nguyên Lê's brilliant Silk and Sand and who leads off 'Paul Motion's Diary' [sic], the title track most of all is pretty dazzling. Guests also include clarinettist Kinan Azmeh. Best of these is saxophonist Ron Blake and his beefy contribution on the feelgood 'Stolen from the 10th Arrondissement' that is another strong suit of an unpretentious eco-conscious stylistically voracious record as are Hadfield's compositions that cover a lot of terrain so imaginatively.