This is curious and subtle music. There is no spine, nothing to hold it together or even necessarily to hold on to. It’s wilfully experimental, the theory seems to be about throwing multiple ingredients up in the air and hoping the combination creates a narrative. In this sense it’s more reminiscent of field recordings of a natural environment, yet it’s this peculiar microtonal world, where what instrumentation we’re actually hearing isn’t particularly obvious, with the trio balancing menacing hints of feedback, gongs, scratchy fidgeting, drones and shimmering accordion that alternatively sounds like mouth organ or a melodica. It sounds like an electro acoustic ensemble feeling each other out, except there’s actually no electro, with the feedback hints coming from the interplay between the clarinet and accordion.
There is nothing overtly ‘jazz’ about this – though it appears improvisation plays an important role. Midway through a piano seems to appear and you wonder if it has always been present. Nothing ever takes centre stage. This is true democratic playing, and without the handles, without the spine, with out the consistent repetition, it never allows you to truly settle. The beauty of this is that they traverse some really unique – if not a little off kilter and quite spooky moments. To some extent it’s a lesson in improvisation. Initially you wonder what rewards their scattershot approach could yield, yet over time it’s astounding their ability to create new forms, their extended techniques moving beyond their individual instruments and into their compositions, allowing them to arrive at sound worlds that you could never have previously expected to exist.
With two extended pieces, Hue demonstrates both the patience and confidence of the trio of Magda Mayas (piano), Monika Brooks (accordion) and Laura Altman (clarinet). They’ve previously released albums on Jim Denley’s SpliRec and the Portuguese imprint, Creative Sources. Hue, their third record album is really quite remarkable. It squeaks, rattles reverberates, shimmers, converges into a truly unique organism, one that feels not just far beyond the sum of its parts, but also, oddly enough quite untouched by human hands.