Sid Smith rounds up the best releases from prog’s jazzier reaches.
Yumi Hara’s Groove Study (Bonobo’s Ark Records) distills so many of the musical ideas that she’s pursued in her work as a composer and performer over the years (she has collaborated with luminaries such as Gong’s Daevid Allen, Soft Machine’s Hugh Hopper and various members of Henry Cow). It fizzes with invention and inspiration: Orlyonok is driven by back-breaking time changes and a serpentine melody. Embraced by Hara’s voluminous church organ, which dominates much of the album, it’s nothing short of majestic. Henry Cow’s Tim Hodgkinson and Chris Cutler bring their precision A-game to Hara’s incisive compositions.
Given the presence of touch guitarist Trey Gunn and drummer Pat Mastelotto, Tu-Ner’s T1 - Contact Information (7d Media) unsurprisingly references the febrile energies of King Crimson’s fraKctal adventures in the 90s. Joined by adventurous touch guitarist Markus Reuter, they thrash out dense rhythmic clusters, head-butting riffs and nightmarish soundscapes. Their unflinchingly brutal and creatively raw outpourings make for an immersive but bumpy and challenging flight into the unknown. Gunn and Mastelotto were criminally underrated during their tenure in Crimson, where they agitated for much of that musical institution’s experimental high points, so it’s especially gratifying hearing them raising merry hell together on this double CD.
Akku Quintet’s Kinema (Morpheus Records) is the fifth studio album from this Swiss-based ensemble led by Sonar drummer Manuel Pasquinelli. Effortlessly marshalling contrary rhythmical motifs into a cohesive, driven narrative, the satisfaction of hearing all the pieces fit together is not unlike solving a particularly dif