Moraine — Manifest Density
(Moonjune MJR028, 2009, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2010-07-01Moraine is a new Seattle-based five-piece led by guitarist Dennis Rea (please refer to our feature on Mr. Rea in issue 23 for more background), joined by a rhythm section of bass and drums, plus a small 'chamber' section of violin and cello. They are purely instrumental and encompass a fairly wide range of stylistic variety, though the chamber-rock meets a sort-of mutant electric jazz tag applies to the general context they operate within, even at their most aggressive or introspective. The bulk of the writing is handled by cellist Ruth Davidson and Rea – whose material is often informed by his many years working as a musician in Asia, but violinist Alicia Allen and bassist Kevin Millard each offer one track as well. When they rock hard, one may be reminded of bands like King Crimson or Present, or perhaps even some of the less foreboding elements of Univers Zero. Other times one can hear the grungy jazz-rock style of early Mahavishnu (think Inner Mounting Flame) informing their sound. But that's only a catalog of possible influences, and the real story here is that there is far more originality in Moraine's music than the sum of all their influences, and the masterful way that each player applies their ideas to this canvas is the key to the magic that makes this an essential listen.
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