‘In-Tension’ from According to the Sound

According to the Sound are a duo who appear to invite any number of guest musicians to record with them and create an album. In-Tension is my first time of hearing what gets released. The album kicks-off with the title track and the sound of alto-saxophonist James Morton with a string backing. The sound and tone are strong, melodic, and quite soothing and then before you know what has happened the sound morphs into something quite different, more jazz/rock fusion before subsiding back to where it started. This is clever writing, playing, and challenging for the listener too – so is this an indicator of what is to come or a one -off?

‘Politics of Fiction’ features some wonderful playing from trumpeter Gary Alesbrook and pianist Adam Parry-Davis. It is the trumpet and piano that dominate this track with well-played bass and drums from Jim Barr and Justin Brown respectively filling out the sound and adding the extra touch of tonal colour to this track. ‘Part In Process’ introduces electronica into the mix against the sax of Sam Shotokova and Paquale Votino’s bass. For me, the overall effect works well and shows how programming and live sax can be combined to good effect.

‘String Theory’, based on the title alone, I expected to be somewhat chaotic in sound: I could not have been more wrong. The tune opens with some beautiful alto playing from James Morton with sparse but well-placed piano from Adam Parry-Davies. The sound produced had me thinking of a film score for a Ridley Scott Sci-Fi epic: I really enjoyed this this track. ‘The Switch’ starts as a much punchier affair with sharp bursts of sax before mellowing out with the piano playing of Adam-Parry Davis. The tune ebbs and flows with great use of the bass, piano, and strings before the sax re-joins the tune and takes on a big band sound that was not expected: a well thought through composition.

Track six is ‘Party Line’ with, again, James Morton taking the lead on alto. The contrast between sax and piano was fascinating: the piano melodic and flowing while the sax added a sinister undertone. This tune would not have been out of place in an Alfred Hitchcock movie, whether or not that was its in-tension. ‘Noise of Time’ opens with a flurry of trumpet and sax notes that dissipate with the introduction of a calmer piano and string section. The Trumpet sound then reappears in more measured, spacious approach before the strings bring the track to a close, a noise in a moment in time.

‘A Million Miles to Run’ has, for me, a free style jazz feel to the horn playing under which there is an almost drone like quality that anchors the sound before the strings add a lyrical content that softens out the tune before it builds again, briefly, towards track end. There is so much light and shade in this short piece and each time I listened through there was something else that caught my ear and made me think again about what I was listening to. Ambrose Akinmusire plays a simply gorgeous trumpet line through ‘Feel It In The Air’. This piece is beautiful in its apparent simplicity, the placement of the piano notes in support of the main theme and the string section that tie it all together makes this, for me, the standout track of the album.

‘Snake State’ bristles with energy, great sax lines, driving drumming from Justin Brown over a repeating piano phrase and the trumpets kick in to bring the whole thing to an ending on a high. ‘Heavy Smoke’ has a hip-hop beat to it provided by Jake Goldbas with more great trumpet and sax lines from Ambrose Akinmusire and James Morton respectively. The album ends with ‘Outbound’, an upbeat tempo, strong drum patterns, and a wonderful tone from James Carter on tenor. The latter part of the track fills out with trumpet, sax, piano, keys, and drums all coming together to produce the most wonderful sound before it all peters out to silence.

I really enjoyed this album with its mix of muscular playing and contrasting moments of quiet. According to the Sound pack a lot of ideas into the sixty minutes given over to the twelve tracks that make up this album but at no point did I feel overwhelmed with what was presented. In-Tension is also packed with some very good guest musicians who bring their own sound to that provided by Adam-Parry-Davies and Patrick Case. It was Patrick Case who brought this album to my attention and I thank him for that!

In-Tension is available on the Losen Records label.

Musicians: Adam Parry-Davies – piano, Fender Rhodes, midi keyboard; Patrick Case – guitar, synth, strings, programming, midi piano, string arrangements.

Guest Musicians: Gary Alesbrook – trumpet tracks 2,5,7,9,10,12; James Morton – alto sax tracks 1,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12; Sam Shotokova – tenor sax track 3; Jim Barr double bass – tracks 2, 5,6,7,9,10; Adam King – double bass track 12; Otto Hashmi – electric bass track 11; Pasquale Votino – double bass tracks 3,8; Alex Hutchings – electric bass track 1; James Carter – tenor sax tracks 5,8,12; Mike Rodriguez – trumpet tracks 2,7,10; Ambrose Akinmusire – trumpet tracks 9,11; Theo Croker – trumpet tracks 7,10; Jake Goldbas – drums tracks 5,7,8,9,11,12; Justin Brown – drums tracks 2,6,10,12; Alex Fryer – tracks 4,5,7,8,9 conducting string players from The Academy of St Mary-le-Bow. Tracklist: 1. In- Tension. 2. Politics In Fiction. 3. Past In Process. 4. String Theory. 5. The Switch. 6. Party Line. 7. Noise Of Time. 8.  A Million Miles To Run. 9.  Feel It In The Air. 10. Snake State. 11.  Heavy Smoke. 12. Outbound.

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