Norwegian tubist Martin Taxt - a charter member of the microtonal tuba trio microtub - devised an ingenious compositional map for this superb new quintet recording. Drawing upon a lecture by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto in which he delineated the differences between a nest and a cave - calling the former a custom-made safe space and the latter a naturally designed space oblivious to needs of potential inhabitants - Taxt composed three related melodic paths for a 36 pithched grid to represent a cave. The agile musicians in his ensemble - fellow microtonal tuba player Peder Simonsen, bassist Inga Margrete Aas, reedist Rolf Erik Nystrøm and organist Laura Marie Rueslåtten - join him in his aural navigation of this organic space, tracing and elaborating his simple melodic shapes with a varied timbre one would hardly expect from an ensemble dominated by lower register instruments.
Indeed, the opening piece, Cave vs Nest, begins with a rumble of subterranean organ, resonant tuba and mewling modular synthesizer that feels like a tentative way of poking around in a new space, but as time passes the music opens, floating upon beating layers of sound that undulate like a magic carpet. The meditative veneer of "Swelling Forms of Domes" is heralded by the ringing of hand bells played by all five musicians here and there, claring the space for wind instruments, which toggle between chorale-like reverie and breakaway passages where one of the voices veers off to discover some other sonic nook before it's replaced by an asteroid spray of synthetic tones.
"Paving Seen from Above" drifts upon haunting electronic patterns, swooping whistles and massed bells, before the low end arrives as a soothing balm. For the final piece "Disruption, disjunction, deconstruction", the musicians embark on a group improvisation digging into the 36 pitches independently, but achieving a remarkable unity on what is the album's most varied journey.