DouBt is a bristling trio of free form players who wrap their spontaneous playing in fusion and funky clothing, but ultimately return to their chosen style of playing. ‘Mercy, Pity, Peace & Love’ is far from being a conceptual work, and if the title track relates to any of the concepts within, I couldn’t find the immediate links. For the most part this is challenging music that sounds as if the trio are trying to stay within the parameters of accessibility, but ultimately their unfettered approach gets the better of them
DouBt like to feed off each others improvisational ideas and see where it takes them. At time it works well, but you suspect that the most accessible pieces might well be a compromise of what they would rather be doing.
Even the political narrative of the opening ‘There Is A War Going On’ has to battle to make itself heard over a growling organ /guitar work out. The listener is given a choice of either being sucked into the music by the narrative or vice versa, but the track comes unstuck when it tries to do both simultaneously.
‘Jalal’ is a mature slice of fractured funk that might well have come from the George Duke/Zappa era. The expansive guitar lines sounds like an electric violin, while the hard riffing of ‘No More Quarrel With The Devil’ references the King Crimson ‘Red’ era.
So far so good, but the real business of hooking you into their improv world, starts with the sonorous groan, spacey ambience and Cecil Taylor style rapid note clusters of ‘Rising Upon Clouds’. The whole piece is offset by Tony Bianco’s crisp cymbal work, while Alex Maguire’s slow tempo church organ gives the piece a touch more gravitas. Much later the trio return to the same format with the free form, merry go round sprawl of the aptly titled ‘The Human Abstract’
In this context the inclusion of the electronic reworking of ‘Purple Haze’ signifies the band’s adventurous spirit, with which they readily deconstruct a composition and then find a way back to the source.
But there’s an unexpected calm after the storm on the beautiful ‘The Invitation’ which nuances John Abercrombie’s meditative approach. Every caress of Michel Delville’s guitar strings is eventually shadowed by Alex Maguire’s keyboard, with Tony Bianco again adding subtle support on cymbals.
It was probably more difficult for the trio to play such an emotive piece than to approach the complexities of the overwrought title track. The portentous sonorous drone, restless press rolls and electronic noodles colour a track that hovers, undulates but ultimately fails to fulfil its potential.
The over extended opening resembles a loose jam where no one is sure where to go next. In fact the band rebuild the piece on the back of some darting piano runs before Alex’s outrageous keyboard solo – very reminiscent of Chic Corea’s Return Return to Forever – and a final spirited guitar led resolution.
The title track much like the album as a whole is good in parts. There’s resolute playing, killer riffs and spirited interplay, but the spacey noodling of ‘Tears Before Bedtime’ tests the patience. The trio is capable of much better and the uplifting ending hardly warrants what’s gone before.
‘Mercury’ is piano led funky fusion. It’s a genre they stretch to their own ends as Alex meanders his way in and out of the groove while drummer Tony Bianco shapes the jammed outro.
DouBt finally return to the netherworld of dissonant, sonorous drones on ‘Goodbye My Fellow Soldier’, where slowly evolving shapes and a feverish percussion hold sway. It’s a rather bleak ending to an album that is actually full of sonic adventure.
Review by Pete Feenstra
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
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