It is not unreasonable, now more than five months into the year, to begin compiling our favourite recordings of 2019. Albums that stand out in January or February tend not to face the stiffest competition. It’s far too early to place bets on this or that disc standing up against what’s to come. By the end of May however, chances are what you’re digging most will be among the year’s best.
This comes to mind in light of Michele Rabbia, Gianluca Petrella and Eivind Aarset’s well-appointed Lost River, which shipped May 31. It is the kind of album that, in a world filled with ugly, restores one’s faith in good taste.
Rabbia is on drums and electronics, Petrella contributes trombone and sounds and Eivind Aarset performs guitar and electronics. Note the reference in each case to the traditional instrument first. The album’s success has mainly to do with the trio’s superior performances.
But that is not to discount the electronics and found sounds. They add warmth, texture and a good deal more. What would otherwise be a sparsely arranged, even minimalist product is instead a work that defies categorization.
It’s more sophisticated than ambient, more broadly evocative than jazz. At the same time it is a remarkably easy listen. It is the kind of improvisational record that lowers your heart rate, and reminds you why you love music.
Rabbia, Petrella and Aarset have played together in different groupings. But this is their first disc as a trio. Each has performed and recorded with a range of important artists: Rabbia with Marilyn Crispell and Roscoe Mitchell, Petrella with Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer, Aarset with Jon Hassell and Arve Henriksen, just to name a few.