Sep 28 2016
The forces of turbulence and momentum shape the melody more than the melody steers the songs, and that’s the compelling characteristic of Dark Territory. Because even though the melodic imagery from Dave Douglas is what draws immediate attention, it’s how that attention becomes gradually more divided as awareness of the melody’s vulnerability points to every direction but the melody. It’s a case where the mapping of the melody is always at the spot of You Are Here, but it’s a relative positioning that exists at the mercy of rhythmic and electronic influences, and so while the focus is riveted to that singular point, there’s no escaping the unnerving sense that the ground is constantly moving underneath.
On “Celine,” the ground is ice, and the tempo glides and slips and hurtles forward with unpredictable frequencies. The floor is covered in fog on “Let’s Get One Thing Straight” and every step is an uncertain one. “Mission Acropolis” is how it feels to walk through foothills that transform into waves at first touch. “All the Pretty Horsepower” is wading through the light spectrum. “Ridge Hill” is the dance floor. It’s all motion that transforms from moment to moment, image to image, no change quite the same.
But even with the challenges presented on the rhythmic and electronic fronts, Douglas’s trumpet often takes to soaring over rough waters. There is a striking dialectic between Shigeto‘s electronic frisson and the sharp precision of Jonathan Maron‘s and Mark Guiliana‘s direct style on bass and drums. Part of this startling confluence is attributable to the rhythm section’s use of electronics of their own, but the establishment of rich, common ground is likely more the result of willfully open minds.
Douglas has been known to switch things up plenty in his recorded career, but even in that context, this is still something of a (welcome) curveball.
Your album personnel: Dave Douglas (trumpet), Jonathan Maron (electric & synth basses), Mark Guiliana (acoustic & electric drums) and Shigeto (electronics).
Released by Greenleaf Music.