Thirsty Ear Recordings
Following a self-released debut studio and live album, Brooklyn trio Dawn of Midi struck through with this, their second album proper, the first thing many will hear from the band, especially for New Zealand audiences – we’ll be seeing the group as part of Wellington’s Jazz Festival in June of 2014.
This “jazz” trio is making music that’s easier to understand in the digital/dance domain. Just as The Necks are to minimal music – using the idea of a jazz trio format – so it is with Dawn of Midi. Here acoustic instruments (piano, bass, drums) make slightly agitated push/pull sounds to create something almost wholly the opposite of free-jazz. This is in fact tightly coiled, the focus seemingly on rhythm rather than melody. Nothing escapes, it’s all locked down, allowed to be filtered, there’s no freefall of ideas. The tautness is the power, there’s something deeply powerful about this level of control and restraint.
After the frenetic opening one-two of Io and Sinope things slow down for Atlas and little darts of melodic distraction punctuate the metronomic bass and drums. Here it’s the minimalism of Terry Riley that seems to be the obvious touchstone, the band all but playing the inverse of The Necks’ approach. Where The Necks favour melody as tinkling starting point, drifting into groove, Dawn establishes the proud sway and melodies announce themselves – even if only just – through the pulse of the groove (Nix).
By the midway point of the album (Moon), there are sequenced tracks but it plays through as if one continuous whole, one 47-minute composition, we have a slight soundtrack feel, but just as soon as that’s established it just as easily falls over into free-spirited fire-twirling party music (Ymir).
As the comedown arrives, across Ijiraq, Algol and the closing title track, the intensity of this band’s focus – and the unique challenge of them essentially starting out in jazz and moving to what is ultimately an “unplugged” version of Krautrock – begins to really set in, never weighing too heavy on the listener but it’s certainly a spiritual mood music wash that has arrived. Taken as a whole it feels deep and profound, so much more than just an exercise in concentration, and nothing resembling a gimmick. This is instead as if The Necks and DJ Shadow and members of Radiohead and Aphex Twin gathered with Brad Mehldau or Chris Abrahams for a little musical conversation.
The gig is going to be a stunner. We’re lucky to be hosting them – this is a really special album. It’s hugely hypnotic, I’ve been lost in this for weeks, months now, and as awkward as I’ve found it to try to describe the album, all I’ve really hoped to do here is share the name of one of the best albums I’ve heard in a while; that and the fact that the makers of this extraordinary music are coming to town.