MORAINE — Manifest Density (review)

MORAINE — Manifest Density album cover Album · 2009 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
kev rowland
Playing this album now, some four years after it was originally released, it is somewhat hard to realize that this is a debut. Here is a band that somehow fuses the strange weird anarchy of Art Zoyd with traditional Chinese influences, avant-garde jazz, hard rock and everything in between. The name of the band is in itself a clue to the music to be found inside the covers, as it is often defined as “An accumulation of boulders, stones, or other debris carried and deposited by a glacier”. What we have here are various talents who have somehow ended up in the same place and have formed a band, and sometimes they even sound as if they are on the same planet. I don’t want it to seem that there is no structure to what they are doing – rather it is the opposite, the only way musicians can play so diversely yet make total musical sense at all times is by having an innate agreement and strong understanding of the direction.

The line-up on the debut is Dennis Rea (electric guitar), Ruth Davidson (cello), Alicia Allen (violin), Kevin Millard (bass, baliset) and Jay Jaskot (drums) and while the rhythm section provides the foundation the three melody players vie for centre stage. I have lost count of how much I have been playing this, as it is one of those albums that has somehow refused to be review as every time I have tried to write the words I have instead sat back and let this incredible album flood over me. Personal favourite (today) is the title song, which starts with a repeated guitar line which is then joined by the others. Amazingly, this album was recorded in just three days yet is highly complex with purpose and direction. There is a real sense of togetherness and understanding of the journey to be followed which is often missing from this style of music where those involved are creating the path as they go along. Here the path is known, if only to them, and they follow it to new heights as if they know the route to the top, which may seem either impassable or invisible to others. An absolutely stunning album from the first note to the last.
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