utorak, 17. prosinca 2013.

Dawn Of Midi - Dysnomia (2013)

Udaraš po jednoj noti toliko dugo dok se ne zabije u kamen i postane iskonski "duboka": pakistansko-indijsko-marokanski soundtrack za geološki film noir. Free jazz izvrnut u bound jazz.


A free jazz trio chains itself to a pulse to see how deep it can get into rhythm, and ends up showing how wide a steady beat can swing. On Dysnomia, uses traditional instrumentation (piano, upright bass, drums) pared down until it resembles a mechanical process. Over nine carefully plotted songs that overlap and bleed into one another, the trio builds upon precise, austere figures — say, a single repeated note struck on a muted piano, or a three-note bass groove — until they achieve depth. Sometimes the results echo a film noir soundtrack, sometimes electronic dance music, sometimes a call to prayer. Like counting rosary beads or playing hopscotch or staring into fractals, Dysnomia is simplicity made hypnotic. — Jacob Ganz

The three guys in Brooklyn’s Dawn of Midi play a grand piano, an upright contrabass, and a drum kit-- the same instrumentation used in traditional jazz piano trios. But it’s tricky to say where Dawn of Midi's new album Dysnomia fits within the jazz pantheon, if it even fits in there at all. Unlike their minimalist free jazz debut First, Dawn of Midi meticulously scripted and scored Dysnomia. For 46 continuous minutes, the trio inverts free jazz into bound jazz, torturing their instruments by playing as few notes as humanly possible. They write barely-there melodies that chase their own tails. They establish mercurial rhythms that are confusingly simple -- three humans dovetailing instrumental loops into thousands of subtly different permutations. It sounds close to an acoustic Beak> session playing a Steve Reich composition, though even closer to something totally unprecedented.
There’s been plenty of jazz groups that tried to reach out to the rock kids in recent years-- The Bad Plus and Brad Mehldau (both trios, incidentally) have shown up on the radar with covers of indie rock songs, though the covers feel more like like a bait and switch operations to get a wayward rockist into their more straight-ahead jazz charts. Unlike those groups, Dawn of Midi aren’t interested in coddling the uninitiated into the world of trading fours and Dmaj11 chords. On Dysnomia, they more interested in, or rather wholly focused on, rhythm. It's a new bridge out of traditional jazz to the rest of the world, and it's built with obsessive precision.
The pilgrimage begins with Aakaash Israni suggesting a tempo with two-note bass line. Then Amino Belyamani counters with one or two notes played with one hand while the other mutes the strings inside the body of the piano, making the piano melodies on Dysnomia sound more often like a thwack on a cymbal stand or some Eastern banjo. The polyrhythms of the bass and piano lap each other until Qasim Naqvi connects all the pulses on on the kit and, for a sustained moment, trio is in sync. And when they coalesce like this it’s so rewarding in that kind of pseudo-spiritual way, like when the tempo of the windshield wipers match up with the music in your car. But they all soon disengage and the three scatter off into new orbits at new speeds and prepare to align again.
This rubric that Dawn of Midi uses-- the lost and found, the tension and release-- has its closest cousins the digital world of Orbital, DJ Shadow, or Aphex Twin. The very real instruments on Dysnomia start to transform into breakbeats, ambient textures, a house hi-hat on “Nix”, all with gradual builds with a few “drops” here and there. With a sleek mix by Rusty Santos, who engineered Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs and mixed Owen Pallett’s Heartland, it also shares more with these avant indie albums that used looped acoustic instruments to create free-form dance music-- the "j-word" has little to do with it.
 The ultimate irony of Dysnomia is that by playing with musical restraint, they discover whole new avenues of sound that's focused on rhythm, dismantling jazz with the tools that built it. And while it may be closest in spirit to ambient electronica or American minimalism, it retains the tenor of a human, organic quest for something spiritual and transformative. Who knew a grand piano, a contrabass, and a drum kit could actually get people nodding their heads the same way a DJ could? Dawn of Midi’s first triumph isn’t just a sleeker Can, or a more narcotic Battles, or a catnip for Radiohead fans who enjoy arguing whether or not “Pyramid Song” is in 4/4. It’s not just a piano trio that’s subverting the tenets of jazz, either. It’s a missing link for two camps that have been diametrically opposed for years, speaking different musical languages and mostly failing to communicate. Guess no one ever thought to try to get the kids dancing.
- Jeremy D. Larson


Live EP 2011

  • First 2010
    Dawn of Midi is a collective made up of Pakistani percussionist Qasim Naqvi, Indian contrabassist Aakaash Israni and Moroccan pianist Amino Belyamani. This jagged, lyrical, explosive and sometimes silent debut recording resonates within the contours of many musical fronts. As a purely improvised work of complete takes, First is a testament to the power of pure acoustic music: the timbral possibilities of wood and metal and the enchanted course of spontaneous composition, from thought to action to air and silence. Captured in pristine fidelity by recording engineer and audio-didact Steve Rusch, Dawn of Midi's debut recording is a beautifully warped example of what a piano trio can do. - www.accretions.com/
    "A truly beautiful album, a sort of tranquil mastery..."   - Noël Tachet, Improjazz Magazine
    "...it's a sheer delight from beginning to end. Wonderful free lyricism and suspense at the same time... Dawn of Midi is something else."   - Stef Gijssels, Free Jazz    "A fine record of inspired improvisation... Could this CD be an unsuspected gem?"   - François Couture, Monsieur Délire    "...an extraordinarily subtle sound architecture... A remarkable band, a remarkable album that not only fans of the improvisation scene will take to heart."   - Volkmar Mantei, Ragazzi Music    "Listeners searching for rich, post-Bley jazz would do well to check this out."   - Brian Olewnick, Just Outside

    This trio, pianist Amino Belyamani, bassist Aakaash Israni and percussionist Qasim Naqvi, has created a debut disk that draws the listener into a world of sound interaction, spontaneous composition and melodic possibility. This is the kind of music that you can play over and over and still discover something new. It's as easy to be seduced by the funky rhythms of "Hindu Pedagogy" as it is to fall under the contemplative spell of tracks like "Civilization of Mud and Ember" and "One." On the latter cut, the rich bass tones mesh well with the fullness of the piano chords and the short, repetitive, single-note fills. All the while, percussionist Naqvi weaves his sounds through the quiet conversations (throughout the CD, Naqvi "colors"the pieces as opposes to "driving" the music.) "No Abhor" blends introspective piano, moments of silence, throbbing bass, and fascinating movement around the drum kit into a dramatic piece that feels like a narrative - near the end, there's a short, bluesy, section that reflects the possible influence of Keith Jarrett. 
    Belyamani, who studied at the California Institute for the Arts, also works with Naqvi (another Cal Arts attendee) in the Axis Trio (whose new CD will be released in the summer on Accretions ) can mesmerize a listener with the simple power of one note; he does so, quite dramatically, on "In Between", the 11 minute spell-binding meditation that closes the program. The sudden shifts in dynamics on "Laura Lee" also have drama, especially in the pianist's twists and turns. Bassist Israni's playing also has a contemplative nature. This music rarely falls into "grooves" so he serves as melodic counterpoint on "Tale of Two Worlds" and percussive counterpoint on "The Floor." Reviewers like to give readers solid descriptions of the music, such as "hard-bop" or "mainstream", but Dawn of Midi has created a program of music that defies categorization. Come to this music with open ears and the rewards are great. - Richard Kamins, Step Tempest  It's unusual to see such a new band receiving what seems to be almost universally high praise from the critics, indicating that, while Dawn of Midi may not be receiving the jazz press hype they perhaps deserve, there is definitely something rather special going on here. There's no point in worrying whether to call this 'jazz' or 'free improvisation' (though all the pieces are improvised, the vocabulary often has a distinct jazz edge to it). Rather, this group has come about at a time when such worries seem irrelevant, when statements of intent can be made through music rather than ideological or theoretical proscriptions; what matters most of all is the creation of serious and engaging sound. The record opens with quiet but purposeful bass and drums from Aakaash Israni and Qasim Naqvi, soon joined by the piano of Amino Belyamani. There's no real sense of anyone 'soloing' as such; rather, the three musicians collaborate to create music that contains both the melodic/harmonic legacy of jazz and the textural approach of free improv, but prioritises neither. As they write on their website, ŇIn the global art music setting, one can sense a paradigm shift that veers towards an appreciation of timbre, color, and the silences that frame a musical offeringÉIn this age of modern improvisation where the distinctions between musical normatives are blurred, DOM's thematic and timbral approach is reminiscent of many genres bound in one simultaneous moment.Ó Without the strictures of chord changes or the 'theme-solos-theme' template, the improvisations are nevertheless full of memories, fragments, wisps of genre, of music heard and absorbed by the players. But this never degenerates into a merely banal quoting of genre; instead, the kinship between different musics is recognized as the background to the creation of new sounds and discoveries. It's a way of 'making it new' without trying too hard to do so: innovation by stealth, if you like, or innovation by degrees, with the traditions of the past as a rich well to draw on rather than a burden or hindrance. There's nothing flashy or self-consciously dramatic here; the tracks rise and fall, dip and sway, moving away before you can pin them down. Part-way through 'Laura Lee', the piano suddenly introduces a meltingly affective, melancholic chord which feels perfectly appropriate, though it doesn't obviously arise from the territory the trio has just been exploring - and then, even before the sustain-pedall'd echoes of that chord have faded away, Belyamani starts repeating a note, not quite hammering, not quite feathering it. What follows is the most exquisitely judged use of space, bass and drums working in perfect tandem with Belyamani's odd pauses, which are longer than the momentum of the music might lead one to expect, but shorter than a fully-fledged 'silence'. It's as if something really lyrical, flowing, song-like is about to emerge, but is dampened, broken up, forced back underground. This suggestion of what might have been - an allusion to what has not yet come to pass - imparts a wonderful sense of openness. This is a world of possibility in which choices are made at every turn; you can hear the players thinking this music through as they are playing it. Which shouldn't lead to the usual accusations of 'cerebral' and 'intellectual' music, as opposed to music from the heart, from the gut - what Dawn of Midi exemplify is that that supreme control goes hand in hand with the creation of emotional states. This is music tied to the motions of the body and the motions of the mind. I may not have been very specific in what I've said so far, and it's perhaps best to discover the various techniques and variations DOM spin through real time listening rather than after-the-fact criticism. That said, I will note something that happens quite a lot on the record: an emphasis on detail, one note or minute phrase being returned to again and again, all the development occurring in variations of touch. Mid-way through track five, 'Tale of Two Worlds', there appears a minimal repeated figure, sounded with a cross between bluesy insouciance and something almost despairing, punctuated by the dampened dabs of a note sounded while the finger clamps down the vibrations from the string. One is drawn into this, forced to examine the implications of a musical phrase that one might have overlooked in the general development of the piece; it's as if the players have suddenly decide to zoom in, to focus very closely and specifically for a couple of moments, and one realizes that this could happen at any time, one realizes the trio's great awareness of the myriad of possible implications in everything that they play. For the ultimate example, listen to the last track, 'In Between', where a single piano note (and then a small number of alternating notes) sounds out again and again, for minutes at a time, bass and drums gradually boiling and bubbling underneath, a chord in the other hand supporting but never fully developing the scant material, all creating a kind of momentum through stasis; and, finally, a meditative quality, the piano reminiscent of tolling bells, the bass plucking understated counter-melody, drums with the faintest taps and splashes, a trance with off-centre rhythmic accompaniment. Once this lengthy section finally finishes, and the CD ends, something still seems to hang in the air - the silence itself turned into music by what preceded it. How the music will restart on DOM's next release only time will tell, but no doubt it will flow as naturally from the silence as it flowed into it. This is an extremely fine debut recording, one which I have no hesitation in recommending.      - David Grundy, Streams of Expression  Initially a little hard to listen to for any regular Jazz enthusiast, though after a few goes (and reflections) I found this album to be a demonstration of great live performance, though mysterious and intriguing it seemed. I found the long term charm evidently more fulfilling and ultimately absorbing more than any instant 'jazz' fix that temporarily satisfied. Playful and challenging, Dawn of Midi jump and scamper through 'First' with their own form of experimental jazz moves. They utilise silence and pause as much as their use of dense activity and cajole each other through instrumental forms of conversation, collaborative monologue and even the occasional slur of ambience. Made up of Pakistani percussionist Qasim Naqvi, Indian contra-bassist Aakaash Israni and Moroccan pianist Amino Belyamani, the trio make up a unique expressionist performance. Making a use of spontaneous phrasing and dialogue resulting in a range of narrative and instrumental fluidity. DOM's approach to form and flow is the pleasurable characteristic, leaving conventional composition far behind. They focus on making a uniquely dynamic impression through an array of unpredictable moves, casting off any linear model within the familiarity of acoustic instruments. However, they seem to present little apparent context, leaving the listener hanging on for comprehension. The result is a mixture of satisfying bewilderment and a wondrous anxiety of stop and start movement which may well be DOM's open ended message, make of it what you will. Dawn of Midi's delivery and conviction is warm and compelling with a colourful and vast narrative, a must listen for any fans of the experimental and a point of reference for more mainstream projects like The Cinematic Orchestra's live scoring of 'Man with the Movie Camera' and hypnotic Australian trio 'The Necks'.      - Matt Synthia  "Dawn Of Midi" is something else. The trio, consisting of Qasim Naqvi from Pakistan on percussion, Aakaash Israni from India on bass, and Amino Belyamani from Morocco on piano, form, despite their different nationalities a really strong unit, playing minimalist open-ended improvisations, quite sensitive and/or intense, often eery, with unusual tempo changes and punctuation, very hypnotic, like waves lapping at the shore, retreating and coming back. Their stubborn focus on their quite special musical concept gives this album a fantastic coherence, something you listen to in one go, with all pieces fitting fitting perfectly into the whole. Wonderful free lyricism and suspense at the same time. The question is whether this will prove to be sufficient to go on this mode without becoming overly repetitive, but at least for one album, it's a sheer delight from beginning to end. - Stef Gijssels , Free Jazz  A NYC/Paris based piano trio with Qasim Naqvi (drums, toys), Aakaash Israni (bass) and Amino Belyamani (piano). Maybe it's just me, but almost every time I hear a pretty good jazz pianist these days, I hit on Paul Bley. My guess is that Bley was, in many respects, ahead of his time and over the last decade or so, many folk are catching up, not a bad thing. This trio has something of his improvisational feel (not compositional), which they weld with a certain amount of experimental techniques including prepared piano. All three musicians are quite strong and, more importantly, show a good amount of restraint, allowing each other ample space in which to operate. Israni has a sound that's both large and nicely dry while Naqvi is light and fluid, making for a tasty combination. Belyamani makes sparing use of preparation but when he does, it's an effective color, not used for mere decoration. Listeners searching for rich, post-Bley jazz would do well to check this out.  - Brian Olewnick, Just Outside  Dawn Of Midi are a trio based in NY and Paris, who despite their name do not use digital or computer instruments on First (ACCRETIONS ALP048CD) but instead operate a traditional acoustic jazz set-up of piano, bass and drums to deliver stark and skeletal updates on the kind of deep-underground free modern jazz that sometimes surfaced on the ESP-Disk' label in the early 1960s. Interestingly, none of the performers are strictly Afro-American, instead coming from Pakistan, India and Morocco. There's a lot to be said for their spartan sound, rendered with punchy clarity by their recording engineer Steve Rusch, which exhibits a high degree of interest in what they call 'the timbral possibilities of wood and metal'. - Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector  Kada se susretnete sa debi albumom mladih muzičara nepoznatog sviračkog bekgraunda, kao što je to ovde slučaj, i još vidite da je u pitanju marokansko-indijsko-pakistanska kombinacija u klasičnom klavir-bas-bubanj šablonu, predrasude su neminovne. Ako ipak pokušamo nekako da ih zanemarimo ostaju pitanja - šta je to što ovi momci nude, a da ih može izdvojiti od gomile već etabliranih pijanističkih džez kolektiva, i da li su dovoljno sposobni da privuku pažnju ljubitelja improvizovane muzike koji traže nešto što će ih “uzdrmati” i odvući u nepoznatom pravcu? Odsustvo očekivanog dovoljno je da zaintrigira za početak. Marokanski pijanista Amino Belyamani, indijski basista Aakaash Israni i pakistanski bubnjar i perkusionista Qasim Naqvi na svom debiju ne nude etno-fjužn koktel egzotičnih krajeva odakle potiču. Ali zato je tu punokrvni improvizovani pijanistički džez koji će malo koga ostaviti ravnodušnim. Snaga, koherentnost i savršen osećaj za nadahnutu improvizaciju čine ovaj neobičan akustični trio primamljivim za muzičke sladokusce. Misteriozni klavirski liricizam, apstraktni ritmovi i elastični zvuci kontrabasa u međusobnoj improvizacijskoj igri, osnovna su žila kucavica muzike ovog benda. Povezanost i razumevanje aktera je perfektno. Muzičari imaju nepogrešiv osećaj i kada treba stati i umiriti se, i kada nastave muziciranje u raznovrsnim kombinacijama, nikako ne zvučeći rastrzano ili nedorečeno. Oni nam predstavljaju s jedne strane suptilnu, osećajnu i duboku, a nasuprot tome i veoma snažnu i dinamičnu muziku. I pored ovih kontrasta, album zvuči kao zaokružena celina lišena besciljnog lutanja i prevelikih “iskakanja” koja vode u besmisao. Za Dawn Of Midi se može reći da su zahtevni za slušanje, ali ne i depresivni ili uznemirujući. Od samog početka i “izlomljene” teme Phases In Blue, pa sve do kraja i jedanaestominutne hipnotičke In Between, albumom provejavaju tamni tonovi, ali u njihovoj igri prepunoj obrta i skrivenih detalja ova muzika zvuči veoma izazovno. Skepsa koja je postojala pre susreta sa debijem ovog mladog internacionalnog trojca gubi se već posle prvih taktova i prerasta u pozitivno iznenađenje. Nepoznanica koja ostaje jeste pravac u kome muzičari, sa svakim ponovnim preslušavanjem, odvlače slušaoce u zavisnosti od njihovog senzibiliteta i trenutnog raspoloženja. Jedno je sigurno - gde god krenuli sa Dawn Of Midi, avantura je zagarantovana. - Predrag Vlahović, Jazzin

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