Laurence Pike: Holy Spring review – cosmic drum trips

(The Leaf Label)

A solo album by an improvisational drummer would in most circumstances elicit a wary groan, but Australia’s Laurence Pike is no ordinary percussionist. He’s played with a miscellany of jazzers (notably pianist Mike Nock), and embraced genres from psych to electronica to spiritual jazz. Nonetheless, his 2018 debut, Distant Early Warning, was a surprise, blending Pike’s rhythmic skills with sounds culled from a drumpad sampler to create an uber-ambient suite, part acoustic, part electronic.

Holy Spring doubles down on that approach with impressive results. It’s inspired by Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (Russian title Sacred Spring), and aims “to connect with something universal”. It certainly does. Pieces such as Dance of the Earth rumble and thud, overlaid by splashes of cymbals, with more rhythmic trickery than Reich or Glass could serve up. Drum Chant, with indigenous Australian clapsticks in the mix, evokes the pulse of that continent’s vast, red interior. Elsewhere, it’s deep space that is conjured up. On Daughter of Mars, aliens appear to be calling to the blue planet, while the title track could serve as the soundtrack for a close encounter. Full of morphing grooves and moods of imminent revelation, it’s a quicksilver delight.

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