Christopher Young has a gift for crafting charged atmospheres in which to improvise. This gift is especially prominent on this double album’s 20-minute centrepiece, the slow, dreamy Out of Time, which has minimal harmonic movement, instead using layers of post-Robert Fripp guitar played by guest Brendan Hains, whose long, sustained notes frost with tension the improvisations from Julien Wilson’s tenor saxophone and Young’s bass clarinet. This sharp edge of anguish is passed between clarinet, saxophone and guitar, without either the effect becoming overwrought or its impact diminishing through the listener acclimatising. Meanwhile bassist Alistair Watts and drummer Daniel Brates maintain a soft, restrained, but nonetheless buoyant dialogue to keep the piece afloat.
It is among the most compelling works I’ve heard this year, and amazes me afresh with each hearing. The rest of the album keeps you in its grip, too, with Young developing such full-blooded sounds on his saxophones, clarinets and flute, and his compositional ideas asking different questions of himself (sometimes multi-tracked) and his collaborators. Wilson’s brawny tenor also guests on There Is Always a Way to Know and trumpeter Tony Norris spices up Eternity.