Boomkat Product Review:
Prepare to be swept off your clogs for a 2nd time by Norwegian drummer Thomas Strønen’s Time Is A Blind Guide contemporary jazz ensemble with sophomore side Lucus; here including Lucy Railton (Cello), Thomas Strønen (Drums), Håkon Aase (Violin), and Ole Morten Vågan (double bass), and now joined by Japanese improvisor Ai Tanaka (Piano) for a more free-flowing, open follow-up to the group’s eponymous 2015 debut, which was also released by ECM.
Recorded in the responsive acoustics of Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo in March 2017, Lucus renders a gravity-defying dialogue between virtuosic instrumentalists hingeing around band-leader Strønen’s finely honed spatial sensitivities and proprioceptions, and propelled in fluid, elastic form by the rhythmic engine of Strønen’s drums with Vågan’s Double Bass.
Around that amorphous locus, the group weave a precisely elusive web of gestures, coolly adapting the language, recording techniques and devices of classical music at the service of a much freer style nodding at spiritual jazz’s elemental orchestrations, and suitably, beautifully suspended in-the-mix by Manfred Eicher’s exquisite production. It’s worth noting that that production is a prime example of what contemporary electronic producers are now calling ‘weightless’ - that is to say, a music leavened of its anchors and inducing a feeling or intent common to both ecstatic dance music, Jazz, and classical styles, rather than rote stomp or walls of sound.
Between the tempered upward lifts of Release, Strønen’s percolated prompts in Lucus, the swooning syncopations and playful dabs of Wednesday, and the optimistic stretch of Weekend which brings the LP to a close, you’re in the presence of some delightfully light-hearted but never throw-away music.