Thursday, February 04, 2016

Naima - Bye (Cuneiform, 2016)

Naming themselves after one of John Coltrane’s most beloved compositions, the Spanish trio Naima is an electro-acoustic jazz band reminiscent in some ways to the greatly missed Esbjorn Svensson Trio in their use of electronics integrated within an acoustic trio. The band consists of Enrique Ruiz on piano and electronics, Luis Torregrosa on drums, and Rafael Ramos Sania on bass. The album opens with “A Father’s Anthem” which has dark bowed bass, and a fractured drumbeat accentuated by droplets of piano notes. “Bye” has a swirl of windy electronics mirroring the trio in a light fashion that recalls the post-rock group Tortoise. The electronics swirl ahead while the acoustic trio remains underneath before surging to a dynamic conclusion. The fast and tight “Al Llegar Sabríamos Tanto Como Ella” moves dynamically from tense speedy areas to sections of more openness with spare piano and a very nice bass solo. The electronic at work on “Future Imperfect” are loud and grinding, ominous and imperious. The trio is thrown up against it and plays through the slabs of raw sound. The science fiction nature of the piece moves forward as the group has to rattle and clank to keep up with the massive edifice of sound that warping the space and time around it. “Les Debris” also has an ominous and cinematic feel, with heavy drumming, piano and electronics worrying about the nature of the music. The dark, shadowy nature of the music continues with Ruiz’s piano having a dark pitch and covering the musical window live a heavy velvet drape, as the trio navigates the rainy pre-dawn streets. The sun finally peeks through on “Animal Chin” a Jaga Jazzist cover, with the music becoming upbeat, uptempo and happy. It is a bright interlude in the previously dark and ponderous music. The slamming drums and screeching electronics drive the music home. A hanging piano chord is met with skull crushing drums on their version of Elliott Smith’s “Can't Make a Sound” where the sadness that permeated Smith’s short life is echoed in the music as the music slows to a haunting motif only to be slammed back against the rocks again like the inexorable tide of his mysterious death. An alternate take of “A Father’s Anthem” has a slow, spectral opening before Ruiz adds heft to his piano playing and Torregrosa develops a complex flutter to his percussion. The music then devolves into chaos with blasting dark piano chords and fast drumming ultimately giving way to electronic distortion like a transmission from a spacecraft being lost to static. This is an interesting group; their music is electro-acoustic and has a flair for the dramatic, with dark textures and tight rhythms. Bye -

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