A-Trio Music To Our Ears

Mazen Kerbaj has a history of baffling listeners with his trompe-l'oreille extended/distended trumpet techniques. In this trio setting, with Sharif Sehnaoui (acoustic guitar) and Raed Yassin (double bass), you can barely tell what the hell's going on, except that it's staunchly textural and utterly engrossing. Rejecting any electronic accoutrements (which is explicitly stated on the cover), the disc opens with a thick, brazen rumble, relentlessly enveloping the listener in a quaking, evolving drone for almost nine minutes. As the remainder of the 33-minute opener, "Textural Swing," navigates numerous other regions ―buzzingly luminous, tentatively rattling, thinly quivering ― one constantly remains mesmerized by the incredibly rich yet stubborn fields of sound. The listener becomes so disoriented and bewildered that when an identifiable instrumental sound finally surfaces, with a double bass drone 20 minutes in, it feels completely abstract. It's not long though before the drone becomes caked with noise and you're left without a compass all over again. The three shorter improvisations that follow are equally strange, beautiful and perplexing, both in terms of their particular terrain and logic. It's a rare treat to hear musicians creating such startlingly unique and perfectly constructed, and integrated, work via pure improvisation. (Al Maslakh)