Here’s another in my fairly occasional series of reflections on a recording as opposed to a live gig. This times it’s the new album by Busnoys for the fairly random reason of having shared a car journey recently with drummer Trevor Davies. This is an intriguing trio comprising Martin Pyne, vibes and percussionist with Trevor and Jeff Spencer on bass guitar.
It’s a quirky little gem of an album by turns spooky, moody and sparky with a couple of beautifully rendered hymn like ballads giving some moments of repose. Martin Pyne composes most of the eleven pieces. The episodic opener, Walking on the Devils Ground, gives a taster of the elements deployed throughout the album; a long atmospheric opening making maximum use of the wow, flutter and distortion of the vibes gives way to an assertively stated repeated pattern on vibes over an attractive angular bass riff, building up to an intense climax before dissolving away. The allusions to minimalist like patterns over different rhythmic grooves recur elsewhere on the album each time with a different flavour; The pattern on ‘Daph and Chlo on the wobbly bridge’ has an oriental feel to it until the rolling 12/8 groove gives it the sound of modal jazz standard whilst the slower moving title piece retains a haunting atmosphere. The perkily swinging and monkish ‘Over and Over’ and playful oom…Pah (the latter with Pete Judge guesting on trumpet) sound as if they might have been played with a glint in the eye. A highlight is the lovely ballad A stillness at Appotomax; Pyne allows the tune to ring, the unforced groove with the band giving it momentum and a natural swell as he embellishes. ‘For Ed’ with Trevor and Martin locking percussive horns provides as musical and melodic a drum/ percussion workout as you’ll hear in a while. The principal animatuear in terms of writing, Martin Pyne, reveals wide ranging interests embracing 20th century classical music as well as jazz with a particular fondness for 60’s icons with similarly open minds like Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell. The charm of Pyne’s writing and arranging and the performance of this band is that it brings all those interests together to make a coherent and distinctive sound. The band’s mutual empathy and hair trigger responsiveness create an absorbing, entertaining and affecting world, an experience that will only heightened by live performance.