I wasn’t reporting on The Remote Viewers since 2015, though their uniqueness resonates quite clearly in this writer’s awareness. With each release, the creature of David Petts and Adrian Northover – here on tenor and alto sax, respectively – is capable of renewing its acoustic intelligence simply by the application of rational rules (besides the unmistakable technical dexterity) to alluring integrations of notated materials and extemporaneous sketching. John Edwards, whose double bass has been a cornerstone of the ensemble’s sound for a long time, belongs to the Remote Viewers Trio as an essential member, the juxtaposition of a stringed contrapuntal voice with the quivering of the reeds informing the mingling of textures in decisive fashion.
Fifteen tracks – the majority penned by Petts, the remaining ones improvisations – reassert the musicians’ severe lucidity (occasionally bordering on cynical coldness) in approaching our auditory organization for the consequent stimulation of a distinct aesthetic consciousness. The recording studio was the obvious consequence of an extended period of live rehearsal; in fact, there does not seem to be a pitch out of place, not even where the music walks out of the reiterative grids and atonal patterns characterizing sizeable chunks of the project’s output. Petts, Northover and Edwards masterfully control timbral grains, parallelisms, intersections, placement of pauses and overall dynamic balance inside a wholeness brimming with sharp-cornered melodic lines. Intervals ranging from “extremely close” to “antipodal” assimilate a restricted nucleus of instrumentalists looking for an evolved fusion of modern jazz bits to a contemporary chamber ensemble more often than not.
As it frequently happens with these gentlemen, the record is probably not going to be learnt by heart. Still, the artistic substance emerging from a potential impenetrability is, as ever, a highly appreciated gift. Skewed themes and weird clusters work wonders, sometimes.