Chris Abrahams - Appearance [Room 40 - 2020]Appearance is the new three-track album from respected Australian pianist Chris Abrahams- who will be known to most for his work with minimalist & trance-inducing jazz duo The Necks. This CD release appears on respected Australian experimental music label Room 40- with each of the tracks featuring contemplative, yet gently entrancing melodies and structures- all making for a release to slowly sink into.
The album opens with “As A Vehicle, A Dream”- and this runs just over the twenty & a half minute. The piece is built around a selection of slow undulating clusters of notation- there is both a feeling of forlorn melody and lulling release present here. And in my mind, I’m getting images of a gentle warmed early summer meadow, just as the suns coming up & the sky is sprinkling the mossy greenery with fine & persistent raindrops. There is a hint of blues bound earthiness in Abrahams playing, yet this is never too pronounced as he slowly cascading out the lulling note structure. The melodies on this track are both pleasing, and slightly haunting- and really you could have double this track's length & I’d still be completely entranced.
Next up we have “Surface Level”- this runs around the nineteen and half minute mark, and where the first track was lulling & warningly harmonic, here we step into slightly edger/ moodier waters. The track is built around a blend of mid-range cascading key runs, and slightly higher nervy & locked darts- together these create both a feeling of mystery & slight tense intrigue- with the slightly colder melody rippling through the track like a crisp autumn wind.
The album is finished off with “As A Vehicle, A Dream (excerpt)”- this is the shortest track here at just over the six and a half minute, and as it title suggests it’s revisiting the first track. Though this time around there seems a wee bit more space, and gaps between the flourishes- and at points, the bass notes are allowed to bound on longer than the melody ripples. It’s nice to revisit this track again to end the release, and there is certainly more forlornness & hints at a deeper sadness this time around.
You’ll have to of course enjoy sparse, pattern-based and moody piano music to really get the most out of Appearance. But I found the album quite enchanting & captivating- with Abrahams showing his talent for entrancing structure & subtle-yet memorable melodies. Roger Batty