AMN Reviews: Brian Shankar Adler – Fourth Dimension (2019; Chant Records)

Percussionist Brian Shankar Adler joins forces with well-known New York musicians Matt Moran on vibraphone, Jonathan Goldberger on electric guitar, Santiago Leibson on piano and keyboards, and Rob Jost on bass for a set of 11 tunes that vary in mood from introspective to subtlely intense. The pacing throughout is controlled and deliberate, and the album ultimately lands somewhere between jazz, blues, prog-rock, and world music.

The vibes and guitar, in particular, set forth cyclical themes and motifs inflected with Middle-Eastern influences, not unlike some of John Zorn’s Masada-related works. Leibson’s piano contributes both in the foreground and background. Fourth Dimension really takes off on several tracks that come across as structured jam sessions, with jagged rhythms, understated tension, and sophisticated melodic interplay. On top of this is a sprinkle of playfulness. A great example of this is Rudram, toward the end of which the vibes, keys, and guitar engage in a loose fugue-like interplay. And then there is Nuearth, on which Goldberger’s flanged guitar and Adler’s use of tablas has a retro yet refreshing feel.

On Fourth Dimension, Adler and company have created a compelling offering, listenable but with pleasingly abstract moments. Well done.