Multiverse is the result of a collaboration of UK born drummer/vibraphonist Jim Hart and keyboardist/saxophonist Ivo Neame which has apparently taken over two years to produce in two countries. It comes as no surprise as both artists are always busy with various projects but there’s also plenty of multi-tracking going on here with some quite meaty chunks of synth.
Opening track “Moksha” is a statement of intent. Monolithic slabs of electronic deep bass is embedded in the dense texture of abstract electronic bleeps and buzzes with some really fierce and energetic drumming. It’s actually quite funky and reminiscent of late fusion era, particularly Weather Report but reinforced with everything-but-the-kitchen-sink electronica. The vibes led “The Exchange” starts gentler but still with plenty of energy. As the drums ramp up the vibes become more active and there’s a hint of swagger in the labyrinthine rhythm.
The drum kit has a rest as “Au Contraire” takes the intensity down a notch with an electronic keyboard and vibes duet. The studio effects used still gives it an edge and also oddly emphasise the empty space. “Room 1003” has a playful lightness. Spritely sax and vibes contrast with deep throaty electronic bass stabs emphasising the stop-start jagged groove
The electronic veneers are removed for the piano/vibes duet of “Serie De Arco”. It’s refreshing and an opportunity to enjoy the rapport between the two players in the stripped-down environment, highlighting their instinctive and dextrous playing. With intricate percussion and chiming synth, “Transference” is complex but still has a light and bubbly feel. The fun starts, however, when it locks into a funky syncopated Hancockian electric groove with some more exciting drumming. The more conventional balladic album closer, “Back Home” is grand. Vibes and keyboards meander in the ethereal dreamlike space and leave a calm and cleansing feeling.
Multiverse is joyous and has a sense of adventure which engages the listener. As you’d expect the musicianship is excellent and despite being mainly a studio work with overdubs, it retains a spontaneous, improvisational feel. There’s wonderful light and shade but it is the intense electronic tracks like “Moksha” and ‘The Exchange” that immediately catch the ear. These tracks would probably fit into what Jaco Pastorius would have called ‘technological overkill’ but despite what the bass ace might have said, it certainly does not suck. While the rest of the album doesn’t quite reach those levels of excitement, all the tunes are strong. I think this album will be getting some serious play!
Ivo Neame ‘Yatra’ CD (Edition) 4/5