As a pianist Gary Husband is lesser known than as a drummer but a significant player in his own right usually excelling in energy laden fusion situations playing ridiculously difficult music most famously with John McLaughlin. Here he is in a far more contemplative context in duo as recently as March with guitarist Markus Reuter ''stranded'' after a gig in the Japanese city of Nagoya with the remainder of the tour planned at that time in this year of world crisis cancelled.
They settled into a Tokyo studio to make good with the time playing their own compositions shaped around a relatively small number of chords, subtle injections of live electronics, and long held notes. Opening mournfully with the ponderous 'Colour of Sorrow' there is a lot of space for Husband to operate in. The fortysomething German Reuter is more familiar in prog situations but notions of genre do not get in the way here at all as the two shift gently, more tortoise than hare, throughout. 'Across the Azure Blue' again is meditative, Reuter gently folding in a thick bed of texture, the atmosphere quite washy and floaty.
The title track has a little more drama to it and Husband changes his approach perceptibly, his piano lines a little more detailed and urgent. However, this is an album that relies rarely on chopping and changing mood and tempo. There is more a preferred continuum. 'A Veiled Tempo' continues the lament-laden feeling and you get the impression that everything is held in the air by some invisible and yet somehow benign force.
'White Horses (for Allan)' is a tribute to the great guitarist and innovator Allan Holdsworth who died in 2017 and has the most definitive feel of all these often exploratory and while quiet and reserved never dull tracks.
'Illuminated Heart,' the last of the six tracks, has a certain optimism that illuminates the hints stamped all the way through that you discover the more you listen. Husband, who turns 60 in June, proves himself at his most thoughtful. Reuter is an understanding accompanist (hear him best breaking free beautifully on 'Across the Azure Blue') the duo clear as to what they want and the mood they wish most to convey seizing hold of the here and now. Stephen Graham
Markus Reuter top left and Gary Husband. Photo: Moonjune