Treppenwitz - Sister in Kith

Mr Olivetti FREQ:
For Treppenwitz‘s third musical adventure, the trio set up in a living room and pressed record to see what could be captured over the course of two days’ improvisation. That sense of intimacy and immediacy is perfectly captured on this document that finds them further blurring the boundaries that might constrict a trio that leans towards jazz, but is completely immersed in a wealth of styles and textures. The three instruments on Sister In Kith all seem to hold a particular resonance, the clean, pure piano of Matthew Aplin dancing above the sometimes lugubrious, sometimes febrile double bass of Tom Riviere. Between them, adding a certain élan and constantly changing emphasis and structure, is the extraordinary drumming of Steve Hanley.
 
The rubbery bass follows the piano, aping its movements in an underhand way on “Sound Logic / Sound Magic”, the fluidity of both impressing upon you that connection of the players as the piece leaps from tumbling force to stately near silence, the bass turning it into a space filled series of mournful breaths. The players instantly understand what each segment requires, with the bass strokes lending and edge of European classicism, even though I kept receiving tiny reminders of something Lalo Schifrin may have tried if invited into the warmth of somebody’s parlour.
 
“Watching The Arc Of Bats” made me think of a total reinvention of the intro to “Bela Lugosi’s Dead“, but with the drums stepping further and further out of orbit, expanding excitingly into a nebulous, soothing procession; while “Brave To Swim In This Weather” holds a funhouse mirror up to the classic jazz trio image, distorted by feinting and dodging around the central theme, unexpected minor key stabs whirling the listener and dropping subtle hints of the minimalism of Rachel’s, but stripped further down. Boy, do they know how to swing though. ”Brimful” is a real ’60s treat, bass and drums a constant surge, delicious little fills sing every inch of the kit, right down to the rims and the cymbal stands it seems. The tempo is inexorably raised and ends in a rush of joy.
 
It is quite a relief to find the vast, open landscape of “Dream Of A Common Language” unfolding afterwards as the drums rustle in the decay of the piano, the bass memories hanging in the chilled air. Here is where you fully appreciate the fact that they are playing in a room together, sounds bleeding into one another as the notes diminish, distant details picked out on the horizon, specks of cloud and the lost flight of birds, framed in the expanse. Their desire to leap from whim to whim is what keeps the listener alert, the post-Dave Brubeck hints of “Sockeyed / Loose Laces”, with its quicksand of drums and ceaseless bag of eels bass wriggling fitfully behind the staccato piano intrusions, then drifting into near stasis as if stunned by a spectral vision thrown into relief against its frantic opening.
 
The album does keep giving, but its ending is yet another change of mood. The stately and melancholy piano of “A Mackerel’s Tale” is supported by the inebriated friendship of the bass and drums. You can imagine them sitting on a park bench somewhere, attempting consolation of the bittersweet piano as Nel Begley delivers her lines, standing slightly apart as if the players feel this is how Piano Magic should have really sounded. Her desire — “I want to shout wake up” — resounds through the music, and as the piece ebbs to a close, you just have the feeling that another chapter could have opened up right here.
 
This is a delight. Treppenwitz are a jazz trio for the new age, but with an intimacy and skill that is just perfect.