Simon Barker




You don’t listen to this music, so much as fall into it. And keep falling. The underpinning cross-rhythm lacework, created by Carl Dewhust (bells) and Simon Barker (bass, cymbals), makes for a sonic version of peripheral vision, while in the foreground Phil Slater’s trumpet improvises emotionally enigmatic lines, variously speaking of lonely desolation, hypnotic ennui or undisguised anguish. The music reflects Barker’s obsession with long-distance barefoot running, and losing himself in it to the point where simply taking successive steps is entirely immersive.

The short three-part suite is called Mirage Sustains, and in the second part his drums partially thicken the rhythms made by whooshing, breath-like sounds, sparse bass, bells and cymbals, against which the trumpet again swoops in to sear the backdrop. The third part could, in programmatic terms, suggest the runner battling through fatigue, but musically the focus is on Slater’s radiant tone, and his capacity for endlessly enthralling melodic invention over such minimalist foundations. This music is so absorbing that when it ends, you feel that same sadness as upon finishing a beloved book – yet it was only 25 minutes long.