CD review

Jim Hart and Ivo Neame –  “Multiverse”

Jim Hart and Ivo Neame –  Multiverse
(Edition Records EDN1147. CD Review by Peter Jones)

Multiverse has taken a while to come out. Ivo Neame and Jim Hart started recording it in France in June 2016, but didn’t get around to mastering it until October last year. In the intervening period, Neame has released his excellent Moksha album, which is rather more accessible than this one.

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Hart (vibes and drums) and Neame (keyboards and clarinet) are two grandmasters of their art, and they approach it with a modernist attitude that takes no prisoners. Matt Calvert (who also produces) supplies able support on synths and electronics. The opening track Moksha, as you’d expect, is no crowd-pleaser, but a noisy, whirling and even rather prog-like introduction in some unfathomable time signature. But amongst all the rumbles, squeaks, chimes and furious clatters emerges something coherent and dramatic, rather like the theme to a dimension-hopping episode of Doctor Who. (I looked up the meaning of Moksha this time, since it crops up again here: it refers to “the transcendent state attained as a result of being released from the cycle of rebirth”. But you knew that, didn’t you?)

There is much beauty and even delicacy in Multiverse, but don’t come here if you’re looking for warmth: the predominant feel, on tracks like The Exchange and John Taylor’s Au Contraire, is somewhat chilly. Another attribute in short supply is what you might think of as a hummable tune. And yet there are chord progressions and there are melodies. It’s just that they are often buried between layers of arpeggiated phrases and riffs. And that’s what makes it all so interesting. The riffs and rhythms are mesmerising. Transference, for example, starts with a rhythm generated by an electronically reversed triangle, soon joined by a marimba pattern, before the tune finally kicks in, played on doubled Mellotron and piano. It all breaks down halfway through, then begins to build again on Fender Rhodes and drums.

The prettiest track is Back Home, the closer, with out-of-time meandering acoustic piano and vibes, and no other distractions. If I had my way, there would be a few more numbers like this, interspersed between the electronica.

But Multiverse is what it is: not easy, but very cool, daring and technically dazzling. I’ve played it many times already, and every time I hear something new and beautiful.

LINK: Transference on Video

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