when given time and an attentive listen the music is prepared to relinquish the melodies within.

Ubuntu Music UBU0152CD

Rich Harrold (piano & synth); Ant Law (8-string guitar); Rich Kass (drums, crotales & auxiliary percussion); with Evelyn Glennie (vibraphone, marimba & auxiliary percussion); Natalie Clein (cello); Varijashree Venugopal (voice)

It is said that patience is a virtue, it can also reap great rewards. This latest release from Trio HLK requires the first and delivers the latter. I must have listened to this album almost a dozen times before I really started to get it, and I guess that I will get a little more with each subsequent hearing.

The trick with music as complex, challenging and as dense is this is to approach with no expectations or pre-conceived ideas about what you are about to hear. The music moves on from the Trio’s debut album, Standard Time, released in 2018; and along with longtime collaborator Dame Evelyn Glennie the Trio have brought two new voices in Natalie Clein and Varijashree Venugopal into their musical orbit.

The Trio continues their explorations of jazz and contemporary classical music which they cleverly balance composition and improvisation. The vibes, marimba and percussion of Glennie is now embedded into the sonic palette of the Trio, but what is impressive is how the two new musicians have found a place in the music.

The wonderfully expressive voice of Varijashree Venugopal is only heard on the one composition, the opening title track, but the way she works within the concept of the Trio slotting in between heavy percussion and guitar riffs interspersed with quieter passages gives coherence and relief within a piece that can often feel a little unsettling.

This feeling of disquiet can be felt in ‘Prelude’, yet this seems an integral part of the what the Trio HLK are all about. Music that requires much from the listener, with little glimmers of light appear at frequent intervals. These moments are beautifully captured in the playing of cellist Natalie Clein. Her playing on ‘fIVe’ towards the end of Rich Harrold’s piano solo is a delight, and she brings a much welcome lyricism to ‘Concertinas‘ (for Bill).

The auxiliary percussion of Evelyn Glennie is given free rein on the delectable and tantalisingly brief ‘Apostrophe (part I)’, but it is how show she incorporates this percussive language into the oft heavy melange of sound that is ‘(part II)’ that is truly inventive.

At times the music of Trio HLK can feel bruising and uncompromising, while at others quietly reflective and absorbing. Not the easiest of listening experiences and is sometimes too dark and dense to be wholly enjoyable, but when given time and an attentive listen the music is prepared to relinquish the melodies within.