(2019 - Discus Music - UK)
A deceivingly splendid recording of totally improvised pieces done live in the studio over a two day period, that often fools the listener into being certain the music was previously composed and rehearsed. But that is the measuring stick of great musicians who can come together, play on the fly, and create magic. This is precisely what the trio MPH did here. And the fact that the three have never played together (Maguire had played individually each with Pyne and Hewins, but none of them all together as one band) before makes it an even more remarkable.
From ethereal adventure, exotic journey (not too far from Oregon, various ECM outfits, and high-end ambient fusion bands), psychedelic impetus, avant jazz (Keith Tippett and early company, outer limit jazz), playful encounter, starlight escapades, tilted thresholds, all in contemplative theater, 'Taxonomies' gifts all of those and beyond. If indeed there was a proposition, the three musicians here may have established that they would open the floodgates to allow anything, and for all brain cells to work in unison, to make a masterpiece. The declaration was achieved.
Nothing is stationary, but all is a steady revolution around an axis, that moves either suddenly with alarm, slowly and carefully, and/or spasmodic with suggestion. All with intention and lyrical dissolve. After one listen, it is obvious that these three artists have great patience, to let the impromptu music flow as it will, and take its place, in a rightful order, no matter what the urge might have tried to suggest otherwise. Alex Maguire - piano / Hammond organ, Martin Pyne - vibraphone / drums / percussion / electronics, and Mark Hewins - guitars / electronics, make a fascinating debut release together.
The first session was with Alex (the man who suggested this project) playing mainly Hammond organ. The second day was with him on acoustic piano. Mark performed digital slide guitar and electronics, and Martin took on vibraphone and electronics, drums, and Wave drum on day one. Then on second session, Mark played jazz guitar and electronics, while Martin handled acoustic vibraphone with or without treatments, and percussion. Spots of the jazz guitar give off shades of Ralph Towner/Bill Frisell, yet so many substantial influences exist to pin down anything broad.
The titles of the works are inspired by various flora and fauna, sich as 'False Jasmine', 'Meadowsweet', 'Purple Loosestrife', and 'Sally Lightfoot'. The names are to suggest "timeless narrative, characters, landscapes and mindscapes." This they do, in full bloom. The catholic palette of settings from lazy daydreaming to rippling directions, and exotic chance, provides the audience with a series of short films for the ears and imagination. 'Taxonomies' is very curious, distinguished and inventive.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 12 - 03 - 2019