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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

Between Us and the Light
Leszek Możdżer – piano, keyboards
Lars Danielsson – bass, cello
Zohar Fresco – percussion, vocals
Outside Music OMCD002 [58:25]




Requiem 18/09  
Light Up The Lie
Ex Ego
The O  
Abraham’s Bells
Fake Master’s Hypnosis
Pub 700 (Between Us And The Light) 
Abraham’s Bells  

Like their 2005 release The Time, Between Us And The Light received a double-platinum award for selling more than 20.000 copies within two month of being released in 2006. My question for The Time was, if you don’t already own this album, why not? The following question is purely rhetorical, for if you already own The Time, then you must surely also own Between Us And The light?

If you want ‘more of the same’ then, of course, there is a familial resemblance between these albums. The nature of the playing is comparable, but the percussion has more of a front seat in the more recent recording. Zohar Fresco’s compositional credits are upped, and in fact exceed those of Lars Danielsson, but while his drums and sparkling percussion alter the character of the music somewhat the essential restraint and sense of subtle colour are still very much in evidence, right from the gorgeously deep rhythms in the opening Requiem 18/09. His part is clearly overdubbed on occasion, the slides of an Indian tabla and a number of other rattles and taps on tambourine-like instruments underpinning the basic swing in a richly rhythmic number such as Ex Ego in a way which clearly indicates multi-tracking. The colour of the music is also drum-led on occasion, with thudding percussive bass piano notes adding timbre to Fresco’s opening solo in Adama, whose musical theme played on what sounds like either electronically filtered cello strings or some exotic keyboard effect has a movingly cinematographic quality. That is one of the things I enjoy about this trio’s approach – they all have an honesty to the idiomatic qualities of their instruments, but aren’t beyond confounding the ear and making them sound unearthly and unexpectedly different.

The nature of the music is also given a number of atmospheric transformations through Leszek Możdżer’s playing of a variety of effects on electronic keyboard. The O for instance has sounds of waves and quiet organ-like notes under a simple vocal line by Fresco, and Abraham’s Bells also begins with what sounds like sampled wind effects.

Fake master’s Hypnosis begins with one of those ‘yeah man, that was the best’ commentaries from the mixing desk, which adds nothing to the otherwise fine track which follows. We had ‘warm up’ fragments in advance of tracks in the 1960s from everyone from the Beach Boys to The Animals, and the novelty was either never extant or has long been extinct – adding such blips is now the equivalent of leaving the sprocket holes in trendy photographic 35mm prints, which convinces no-one that they are being allowed in on the creative process, or indeed any kind of in-joke. The opening of Psalmem has a fragile quality which makes it sound like a Piazzolla number from beyond the grave, and he following piano solo has a grave simplicity which makes one sad and nostalgic in the same way wood-smoke does, without anyone really knowing why.

The tempo is picked up with Eden, which has all of the refined and exquisite thematic directness and labyrinthine harmonies that bring me back to this music for a regular fix. A bass solo rich in harmonics begins the (sub)title track, Pub 700 (Between Us And The Light), followed by perfectly conceived out-of-tune piano effects – presumably made by playing a sampled piano transposed a quarter-tone or so against the real one. Zohar Fresco’s percussion and vocals return to guide us through the slowly rolling rhythms of Abraham’s Bells II

While I have enjoyed this album greatly and will no doubt return to it often, it doesn’t have quite the same enduring impact and qualities as The Time. Maybe the follow-up was a little too hard on the heels of that brilliant disc, but in no way do I wish to suggest that this is an attempt to cash in on the former’s success. This is an album which stands up well in its own terms, has many fine tracks and gorgeous moments, and should be on the wish-list of anyone who appreciates fine and subtle playing, and the ever-flowing undercurrent of creative composing and improvisation which characterises this trio’s music.

Dominy Clements


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