Experimental music-making here, serious in an avant sense and in an approach that searches crucially for a new point of departure. A piano and percussion conversation where a voice often devastatingly intrudes the crucial element and the most challenging aspect of this recording is the avant vocals from Laila Smith who stamps a personality throughout this album and meshes well with pianist Phillip Golub and drummer Mario Layne Fabrizio - Golub in recent years was a musical dramaturge for the Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding opera Iphigenia.
Avant guitar and bass icon Joe Morris in the liner notes says that while this 2019 studio recording ''may be spare, even sometimes stark, but it is also relaxed and comfortable, never contrived or precious.'' He adds: ''Having heard them perform works by Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor and Anthony Braxton, I know this work is connected to them even as it is also informed by their interest in Morton Feldman, John Cage, opera, electronic and pop music, and more.''
Tropos on their earlier release Axioms // 75ab (Biophilia) explored painstakingly with added alto saxophone and bass the 1970s music of Anthony Braxton.
'Nightlight Shadow' is the pick of the tracks. Here you get the release of coiled tension and sense the power of Golub's spiky and interesting style. 'Hitchcock's Staircase' at the end is more a statement by Smith who takes a no prisoners approach in terms of high register experimentation that recalls the role of a soprano saxophone as played by Steve Lacy.
Smith's contribution to 'Dark Bulb' is more serene and settling but on 'The Garden' you glean an accommodation more of her role with the trio when piano is as soft as dew-drop and the faint trickle of what may be a glockenspiel just before the one minute mark is a plaintiff foil. Highly abstract Shadow Music does engage and given there is no overt beat or obvious pulse that is ingenious. A world away, small caveat, from the expectations of most jazz listeners Shadow Music is category less but seems more like a ''classical/new music'' art work. Out on 17 March