Al Fraser and Phil Boniface first worked together some 20 years ago, both were studying jazz performance at Massey University’s Conservatorium of Music – now known as the NZ School of Music. They’ve taken different paths since – Al is now one of the leading performers of traditional Maori musical instruments (taonga puoro), Phil is a jazz bassist, recently back in New Zealand after over a decade abroad.
Here they put their musical voices together and it’s a sublime fit. The album’s title translates to sonorous, resonant, deep-toned, gruff and that’s a fitting set of descriptors for what happens when the low voice of Boniface’s bass provides an anchor for the drifting waft of the haunting, melodic, rhythmic grace of Fraser’s improvisations and explorations in channeling elemental tones.
This feels like a soundtrack album – the film yet to be commissioned. A walk through an art gallery could benefit from this being the backing soundscape. That said a walk in the bush could be augmented by these strange, sometimes startling, often comforting evocations.
The rattle, the hum, the coming together of separate instruments from essentially disparate genres – this is the work that the Rattle record label has championed over the last two decades. And this shining example of “art” music won’t always be a comfortable listen, but it’s forever destined to be a worthwhile one.
You can support Off The Tracks via PressPatron