A beautiful and much needed injection of creativity to the Leeds music scene, Ancient Infinity Orchestra are an outfit that never stands in the same river twice.
Following the astonishing dense tumultuous and exhilarating Cosmosaic album, the AIO has done the impossible job of following that project with an equally interesting and thought provoking offering from the core collective musicians. The departure of Joe Love brings Azizi Cole on board and proving the oboe is no novelty instrument Khemi Shabazz joins the proceedings.
A dirty Rhodes piano introduces us to the Elements. A series of sequential seemingly thematically unrelated vignettes merging into a austere soundscape, abrupt jarring changes, ululating saxophone, collective playing, to solo piano and frenetic bowed bass, perhaps perfectly illustrating the Periodic Table’s nodes and their ultimate connectedness.
After Callisto’s initial dense collective stab, Sun Ra keyboard introduces bass and a double speed fretbuzz guitar riffs prior to the joyous theme and sumptuous tenor which then subducts beneath a freakout guitar and Barrett-era Floydism keyboard, looping repetitions and the reprise of the head brings us a closing smeared fanfare, and into Ancient Runes. An oboe delineates a theme over bass repetitions and quirky creaking guitar, and then a short flute break, bass and drum flourish reintroduces the theme.
Stark dysrhytmic interjections, strangled bass, bull roars, cymbal crashes, jabs, embrochure slaps, whinnies, clicks, Worms-style vocal whimsical nit-wittery and gibberish, swishes, calls, elasticated doinging bass, whistles, warblings, synth crystals, whoops and wibbles made me listen to the disarming infectious ‘The Distances Between’ loads of times. And I’m not quite certain why it was so compelling but music is like that. Alot of the time disparateness just works, amuses and satisfies. This would be one of my desert island discs, bringing that total now to 3,149.
Riverrun, pays homage to Nana Vasconcelos, hand claps, dripping mouth clicks, shshing and percussion perfectly evoke the rain and water falling, water running and water cascading over rocks and stones leading to Stillness. Another perfectly poised bass riff with coincidental guitar references and a repetitive saxophone motif, just edges the track imperceptibly forwards, a single saxophone continues the theme, nearly coming to a halt, suspending expectations, creeping forwards again, fading to near nothingness.
Skeetering space keyboard ushers in The Dark Secrets of War. The waif-like lonely oboe pleads as martial percussion and a flatulent keyboard marches left right left right.
A walking bass motif bookends Enchanted Chasm, and together with understated orchestral stabs or swells, underpins the beautifully constructed saxophone solo of Enchanted Chasm. In the initial few seconds of the track the tenor merely inserts disparate notes and might be part of the arrangement but then definitely asserts its presence but even so, it is diffident and curiously dispassionate and allows the walking riff to re-establish itself but then returns lyrically more fluent but perpetuating a somewhat languid rubato attitude. 3150.
Chinkling percussion and bowed bass, tentative snippets from all the instruments orders a minimalist contemplative abstraction to Mercury's MIrage, which then unexpectedly erupts and transmogrifies into a delicious but all too short terminal plaintive collective cacophony.
Sunrise in Zero G is just that. A floating drifting seductive shimmering chordscape with frequencies added and subtracted, tiny distant intricacies, subtle modulation, emerging, receding, evolving, bringing the whole enterprise to a deeply satisfying resolution of perfect idyllic contentment.