It’s as if new instruments are being devised by the minute, such are the improbable combinations Chris Cody contrives among his eccentric octet. Not mere whimsy, this eccentricity stems from the composer’s crafting a musical account of the voyages of French explorer La Perouse (the Astrolabe being one of his ships). In live performance Cody’s suite was embellished with readings from the great navigator’s journals, which wisely have been left off the recording, and the listener, released from programmatic contextualisation duties, may simply absorb the enthralling music on its own terms.
The melodic richness is realised with ever-changing textures, as Tom Avgenicos’s trumpet, Paul Cutlan’s reeds, James Greening’s trombone and didgeridoo, Susie Bishop’s violin, Emily-Rose Sarkova’s accordion and Cody’s own piano come and go against the grooves of Lloyd Swanton’s bass and Fabian Hevia’s percussion. Cody builds improvisational space into the work, and such gifted players inevitably lead us to previously uncharted lands, but even more notable is the coherence and thoughtfulness of the composing as we journey across this new musical world.