Dawn of Dawn of Midi

Dawn of MidiFirst (Accretions, 2010)

It’s a piano/bass/drums trio, but it’s different even for a “different” piano trio. The music is adrift, patiently rippling its way through dark moods.

I want to call it zenlike, for all the spaciousness and depth revealed on tracks like “The Floor.”  But the music is often churning underneath, either with dark piano notes, as on “One,” or with stormy drums and bass. The opener, “Phases in Blue,” comes out swinging with clipped, staggered piano phrases over a slow tumble of rhythm section sounds.

There are some superficial similarities to Axis Trio, the young group I’d raved about last year. In fact, Dawn of Midi drummer Qasim Naqvi is from Axis Trio (which has its own new album, Anthem, due out any day now, also on Accretions). And like Axis Trio, Dawn of Midi has a cosmopolitan makeup: pianist Amino Belyamani is Moroccan, and bassist Aakaash Israni is Indian, and Naqvi is Pakistani.

Dawn of Midi seems to be fully improvised music, though, with a sound that’s consciously skewed away from the usual avant-garde improv path. Pianist

This is all going to draw inevitable comparisons to ECM, and the piano frequently has “that” sound, atmospheric and ringing, and even pretty, as on “Laura Lee.”  The darkness quotient is mostly heavier for Dawn of Midi, though, with lots of dissonant piano chords and a rocky, moonscape feel to the clattering drums and bass.

Some tracks like “Hindu Pedagogy” take a more aggressive approach, full of stormy dissonance. The 11-minute “In Between,” which ends the album, has Belyamani riding one chiming piano octave for some time, rattling like a dinner bell over a shattering drum segment by Naqvi. The dulcimer chiming keeps going for more than half the piece’s length before fading down, a calm finale.

But what sticks in my mind are the more drifting tracks, because they define the overall mood of the album. The music is eerie and, in its own thoughtful way, noisy and chaotic.

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