Imagine if we walked on our heads, and tripwires kept snagging our ears. This music is like that. Gifted bassist Michael Mear left Sydney for Paris when he was 19, and while away developed a fondness for rhythmic intricacy: for spiking his grooves with unexpected jolts. Yet rather than making the music sound complex, these devices are so deftly incorporated as to merely make it sound playful, as if Mear, pianist Casey Golden and drummer Ed Rodgrigues are trying to trick each other – only no one ever loses.
You get an extra insight into Mear’s compositional thought processes when, among his originals, the trio unexpectedly attacks Neil Young’s Don’t Let it Bring You Down, and plays it “straight” before turning it on its head. Not that the rhythmic game is the only one in town. Mear writes pastel-hued melodies to float across the metrical puzzles, and Golden’s improvising routinely intensifies the pieces’ emotional stakes, while Rodrigues is given contexts in which being quite dense and busy is obviously Mear’s preferred approach, although I find the music actually more compelling when it’s lighter and skipping, or rather eerie, as on the ending of Late to the Game.