Busnoys – Weaving the Spell
(Tall Guy Records TG006. CD review by Mike Collins)
This may be one of the most appropriately titled CDs of the year. As soon as the chiming chords faded of vibes player Martin Pyne’s delicate and fiercely thoughtful rendering of You’ve changed, the one standard on this third recording by Busnoys, the urge to play the quietly gripping CD again was almost irresistible.
The trio of Pyne, bass player Jeff Spencer and drummer Trevor Davies draw the listener in from the first calmly stated three note phrase from the bass. Notes ring, chords hang, space is allowed to do its work. The liner notes tells us the inspiration for many of the pieces come from novels, poems and legends and some pieces do sound like a story. Walking to Himmelvanger, built around that single simple melodic phrase, stated and developed first by the bass, evolves a steady pulse almost imperceptibly, giving way to a vibes solo before an unexpected warm hopeful melody appears at the conclusion. Weaving the Spell, inspired by the legend of Arthur and the enchantment of Merlin, is all whispering atmospherics. Spooky progressions set the scene for a plaintive melody on violin and incantation-like wordless vocals from guest Gina Griffin.
Other compositions are more song like. Making the point has short spiky interjections from the vibes over a walking bass as the theme. Shadow Dance is a slinky swing with an attractive melody slowly unfurling with exquisite understatement. “Shhh… listen” they seem to be saying. The intensity really thickens with Barr Line, named for recording engineer, Get the Blessing’s Jim Barr. An episodic piece full of contrasts and burst of energy, it makes the uplifting melodic simplicity of The Education of Little Tree that follows all the more affecting. Nocturne is a conversational sound poem, rustles and shimmers, chimes, electronic sizzles, thuds and swells from the bass, skitter and clatter from everyone before dissolving into Pyne’s unbearably tense regretful reading of You’ve Changed
This album is a little triumph. A glowing, sometimes austere, occasionally dark beauty emerges as the set unfolds. Martin Pyne, composer of all but that final standard is at the centre of it all, but this is foremost a group performance rewarding close attention and repeated listens.