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Jazzwise

The bright title and pastel artwork don’t quite prepare you for the droning, ominous sound of three tubas more or less in harmony. ‘More or less’ because these are three microtonal tubas: Microtub are billed as ‘the world’s first microtonal tuba ensemble’. The microtonal tuba, conceived by Hayward and only developed in 2009, is an extraordinary invention, bringing within reach every conceivable pitch within the instrument’s five-octave range. On first listen, Bite of the Orange, the trio’s third album on Norway’s SOFA label, is as lacking in immediately recognisable features as a flat landscape under snow. Yet though these three tracks sound, on first listen, as though someone has switched off the lights, you can pick out the detail as your senses adjust. The pace is glacial, the power colossal. All thick, brooding harmonies and uncanny microtones, it’s the most appealing conversation between foghorns you’ll hear this year.