(Alister Spence Music)
Whenever the drama, invention, energy and repetition-based voodoo of this band suddenly drops away to Toby Hall’s glockenspiel I am instantly transported back to a world where teddy bears and tip-trucks were as big as I was, and reality was a dull place peopled by adults. All by itself this little instrument turns the music into a toy-land of marvels and phantoms: make-believe music, sometimes enhanced by Alister Spence’s samples and music box.
Not that what happens the rest of the time dumps us into a dull adult world, by any means. In the two decades that Spence (piano), Hall (drums) and Lloyd Swanton (bass) have been together they have edged away from the thinking of a straight jazz piano trio, arriving at an improvising language more about moods than chord progressions; more about jointly casting spells than virtuosic role-playing. So with varying levels of enchantment already in the air it is no wonder the glockenspiel can spin one back down the years. This album, recorded live in Sydney last year, also shows the band’s ability to groove like hell.