Aerie Sonic

QFTF Records 041
Fred Grand, 14/12/18

After the unashamedly proggy debut Hatch And Host (Neuklang, 2015), Ingo Hipp’s multi-national ensemble return to the famous Bauer Studio in Ludwigsburg to give their eclectic musical kaleidoscope another vigorous shake. Other than the arrival of German bassist David Helm, who replaces Estonian Peedu Kass, Aerie’s Irish-Swiss axis remains unaltered. If you heard the group’s striking debut then you’ll know that any given piece can run the gamut of post-ECM introspection, churning Krautrock rhythms, furious post-fusion unisons and visceral free jazz. Yet Aerie’s music seldom sounds contrived, and while they might lack a star soloist, the group’s strong collective identity provides ample compensation.

The staccato horn lines and pounding meter of the palindromic Hits 100 001 stiH suggests business as usual, and while the two albums are undoubtedly kindred there are some notable points of difference. With a judicious embrace of electronic textures and processing, Sonic is a more layered and composerly affair than Hatch. Illustrating the group’s extraordinary range, Sonic Complete transitions from a low-key sine wave tone through Métaau’s raw psych-rock meltdown before resolving in anthemic grandeur. Introduction is an all too brief passage of icy minimalist electronica which leads into the dreamy soundscapes of Fuchsteufelswild. Along with the brooding In The Dumps, it leaves a deeper impression than many of the more conventionally animated pieces. It closes with the enigmatic Abeilmmmost, gossamer lyricism juxtaposed against a spiky rhythmic vamp, and it strikes me that the great appeal of Aerie’s music lies not so much in its many discombobulating stylistic collisions, but more in the skilful way that even the roughest of junctures is cleverly smoothed over.

Hits 100 001 stiH; Sonic Complete; Introduction; Fuchsteufelswild; Bad Trash Fish; In The Dumps; Monochrome; Abeilmmmost (54.00)
Sam Comerford (ts); Ingo Hipp (as); Laurent Métaau (elg); David Helm (b); Matthew Jacobson (d). Ludwigsburg, December 2016.

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