Szun Waves - Earth Patterns Music Album Reviews

Szun Waves - Earth Patterns Music Album Reviewsv
On its most cohesive album to date, the improvisatory jazz trio finds new power in silence and restraint.

On the search for transcendence, Szun Waves are perfectly content traveling without a map. The London-formed trio—comprising electronic producer Luke Abbott, saxophonist Jack Wyllie, and drummer Laurence Pike—has performed improvisational jazz with a shared reverence for the vast possibilities of winging it. Ecstatic and off-the-cuff, their performances often sound like three virtuosos pushing each other to outrun their individual musical wanderlust. But on their third album, Earth Patterns—a seven-song set with additional production by David Pye and James Holden—the group slows its heady pursuits to a near halt, discovering new power in restraint.
From the beginning, Szun Waves have resisted being boxed in. Taking inspiration from free jazz as well as avant-garde rock bands like Can, their 2016 debut, At Sacred Walls, was culled from six hours of freeform exploration. Recorded without any edits, 2018’s New Hymn to Freedom evolved their process, filtering ambient and electronic music through the lens of spiritual jazz. Earth Patterns, the result of three days of recording at the end of a 2019 European tour, deliberately takes several steps back from those all-in experiences. It’s their most cohesive record to date, exploring a still, prayerful tone.

On Earth Patterns, Szun Waves foreground their subtle, intuitive approach by dialing down the tension of their debut and the more utopian tone of New Hymn to Freedom. Near silence is prized, and each member holds space for the faintest motifs to emerge. A newfound sense of discipline guides the pining melodies and Pike’s downy rhythms. Evoking Floating Points and Pharoah Sanders’ Promises, “Exploding Upwards” weaves slo-mo sorcery via simmering soprano saxophone lines and a synth with the honeyed lower registers of a pipe organ. On “Garden,” the group takes a less discrete approach and the shiny whiplash of Abbot’s modular arpeggios hit like solar flares.

Compared to the galactic forays of New Hymn to Freedom, the searching but sedate performances on Earth Patterns feel much more grounded. (Abbot himself has said he views it as “a journey from the outer reaches of the universe down onto the earth.”) Ushered in with a gossamer web of shakers, chimes, and faint bird calls, “In the Moon House” offers a Talk Talk-like sanctuary, finding inspiration in the precious nature of the moment. “New Universe” spotlights Pike’s tumbling grooves before folding feverish saxophone into swelling synths, like the opening sequence of an ’80s thriller. Throughout Earth Patterns, these disparate touchstones feel like the result of each member’s career-long exercise in making room—for closer collaboration, deeper concentration, and greater space between every note.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

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Szun Waves - Earth Patterns Music Album Reviews Szun Waves - Earth Patterns Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on September 02, 2022 Rating: 5


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