By Bobby Reed | Published February 2018
On the second album that Thomas Strønen has recorded with his band Time Is A Blind Guide, the Norwegian drummer offers a highly improvised program that is challenging, accessible and hypnotic. The ensemble pursues an aesthetic that draws upon many genres, including jazz, folk, baroque (and other European classical styles), new music, avant-garde sounds, film scores and traditional Japanese music. Strønen, who wrote or co-wrote all the tracks here, gives his bandmates—Ayumi Tanaka (piano), Ole Morten Vågan (bass), Håkon Aase (violin) and Lucy Railton (cello)—plenty of room to improvise. As one would expect from a project helmed by Manfred Eicher, the production incorporates ample sonic space, allowing the listener to revel in intricate details, such as the reverberations of Vågan’s bass strings and the sound of Strønen’s brushes moving across drum heads. The title track, one of the more structured pieces, features Tanaka’s elegant piano lines and Strønen’s insistent cymbal work. “Truth Grows Gradually” exploits the beauty of the instrumentation here, with a track that feels a bit like the pairing of a piano trio and a string trio. Listening to this 52-minute program is akin to strolling through an art exhibition in which some of the musical segments are serene landscapes and others are “action” paintings by Abstract Expressionists. Overall, this sonic journey is a rewarding one.