Paul Williamson Quartet




To an astrophysicist it’s our universe’s little-understood but dominant energy form, to a fantasist it’s black magic, and to others it might mean a maniac in the White House. Regardless of which sense of “dark energy” trumpeter Paul Williamson intended, his title track certainly pulses with extreme agitation, so even the restrained introduction feels like a warning shot. Bassist Hiroki Hoshino and drummer Miles Henry quickly establish a choppy undercurrent, around which Theo Carbo’s guitar prowls and growls, and the hard, glinting edge of each trumpet note could cut glass.

It’s high-stakes, high-drama music, yet never histrionic, such is the brilliance with which the edge-of-the-seat stuff is realised, and at its gentlest the music stops needling just long enough to offer a caress. Much of the breadth of the universe of sonic options encompassed across both the compositions and collective improvisations comes courtesy of Carbo’s instrument, which 53 years after Larry Coryell first dared to use distortion on a Gary Burton record, remains a more interesting noise generator than most synthesisers The bass could sit further forward in the mix, but that may have countered the prevailing spookiness.