AMN Reviews: Deemer+1 – Aftermath (2021; Luminous)

Deemer is the UK-based experimental duo of Dee Byrne on sax and Merijn Royaards on electronics. Here, they team with drummer Johnny Hunter for nine short tracks of free and loosely-structured improvisation with various levels of abstraction.

Byrne is thoughtful and exploratory with her instrument, not in any hurry to get to any particular destination but not opposed to throwing in some discord here and there. She frequently leaves space between twisted notes, but also rams them together on certain pieces, such as Dawn Chorus. Hunter is a busy drummer, comfortable behind the kit playing in an open and leading role rather than just rhythm. He also contributes quieter and even less traditional sounds that resemble object percussion or are subject to processing. Royaards provides atmospherics, mostly in the background, and manipulates Byrne’s and Hunter’s efforts. These subtle waves and mini-drones wax, wane, and whoosh.

For the most part, the tracks on Aftermath exhibit “outside” tendencies, though there are exceptions. Dance Off is largely an up-tempo sax/drum duet with a somewhat catchy theme, and Kinetic Frenetic lives up to its name with rapid notes and dense textures. In contrast, Clear Seeing is an unorthodox take on smoky, late-night jazz.

Aftermath is another in a long list of albums that was recorded right before the pandemic, and sat in digital storage until recently. I’m glad that it was recovered and released, as it is a nice take on modern improv. Well done.