About Turn

Latest album from Australian pianist Alister Spence is Mythographer (ALISTER SPENCE MUSIC ASM013), where he’s joined by famed percussionist Tony Buck of The Necks on these 2022 studio recordings made in Sydney.

Album includes ‘And Yet She Turns’, a non-stop 22:54 mins workout which seems to encapsulate a lot of what this talented player is capable of – the first half is a glorious sweep, very melodic, achieved I think with a very free approach to playing arpeggios at high speed…as such, might owe as much to Terry Riley as it does to Keith Jarrett. Second half reverts to more contemplative pointillist notes thrown up in the air, attempting to answer questions about the unexplained mysteries of nature. I certainly do like this ‘And Yet’ item, but the duo don’t quite mesh together as well as they do on ‘Curious Terrain’, some 8:09 mins resembling the path through the forest of a gigantic Pangolin on wheels…here, drums and jangling keys lock into a simple pattern as if both players determined to simply follow a sound where it may lead them. If it were up to me, I’d advise them to just keep going, but some misguided commitment to “variation” and “dynamics” means they stop halfway through, just at the point where it’s getting interesting. Get back in the tank, would have been my call from the recording booth.

These various modes – circular drumming, exploring arpeggios in a very jazz-informed way, and ambiguous improvised scrapes and bumps – replay themselves in various ways and combinations across the seven tunes here; besides the above, the title track ‘Mythographer’ is very pleasing, and ‘Put To Sea’ experiments with darker tones and strange moods, and gives a glimpse of what they could be doing if they just dared to push a little further out into the unknown. Seasoned mariner Buck’s ready to try anything, one senses, but Spence is a bit risk-averse, still wedded to doing the things he already knows he can do. (31/01/2023)

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