AMN Reviews: Cameron / Carter / Håker Flaten – Tau Ceti (2020; Astral Spirits)

The young Astral Spirits label continues to punch above its weight with yet another outstanding release. Comprised of veteran bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, percussionist Lisa Cameron, and guitarist Tom Carter, this group questions any assumptions that one might have about the traditional power trio.

Tau Ceti is split roughly into two halves – the first is acoustic and the second electric. The former consists of the first three tracks, which feature Håker Flaten’s jagged and wandering bass lines, Carter extracting rolling themes from an undistorted electric guitar, and Cameron using extended techniques to provide patternless knocking and rattling with heavy emphasis on cymbal-work and non-kit objects. These improvisations are free, and manage to be simultaneously spacious and dense. There is a certain headiness and quiet confidence even in the group’s slower interludes, for example, the mid-section of SETI. The only repeating motifs are short melodies offered on bass or guitar.

The electric section begins in the last few minutes of We Are Not Alone, with Carter gradually introducing distortion and a more aggressive stance. For the first time, he employs a solo – a psychedelically-tinged one at that. Daath (The Abyss) goes full bore in this direction, with an overdriven guitar lead and Håker Flaten switching to electric bass. Cameron defaults to a more rock-oriented approach. The overall result is that of a creatively-performed jam session – still improvised, but exhibiting more coloring-within-the-lines than before. Traveling Spaceways continues the journey with retro fusion stylings updated with the post-rock overtones of Carter’s note twisting and Håker Flaten’s wall-like bass presence.

Tau Ceti is to be released on April 17.