Any committed improvising collective needs important reasons for submitting a recording to an audience. In the case of MAW, what struck me most in the notes to this debut album was the expression “love of exploration with absolute sound”, a concept at once nearly utopian and completely plausible. The band’s name is an acronym for the surnames of Frank Meadows (bass), Jessica Ackerley (guitar) and Eli Wallace (piano, including preparations). Am telling you right now, A Maneuver Within has buzzed in my frazzled ears for weeks. I do appreciate the somewhat darkish radiations of the instrumental interconnection, but still haven’t been able to exactly determine the whys and wherefores of this particular offering.
The trio follows unexpressed guidelines, cocooned in a muttered-frequency aura whose resonance informs the bulk of the overall sonority, not infrequently polluted by slight distortion. In the midst of all, quiet contrasts and manageable fluctuations highlight more explicit insights. There’s no shortage of genuine tension, typically expressed in increased timbral harshness. Fragments of phrase and arrhythmic anti-structures do emerge in spots, their amalgamation producing an intriguingly ductile noise.
Speaking of timbre, the instruments remain fairly recognizable throughout, even when their essence is partially disfigured by extended techniques (or room reverberation, for that matter). Often the metal component appears to prevail over the wooden scents; in this regard, the strings are rubbed, plucked, bowed, hit and abraded, not to mention the rattling of objects on Wallace’s hammered wires. There’s sufficient dynamic liveliness, as part of a kind of “post-harmonic seclusion”. The musicians appear to be politely introverted, so to speak; definitely willing to share the fruits of a joint acoustic research, nevertheless they aren’t revealing too much about individual personalities.
Do not expect to memorize anything: just learn new details from time to time, absorbing the whole as aural and cerebral nourishment. This is honest music, entirely deprived of bells and whistles.