Originally an octet at its inception in 1984, the Chris Burn Ensemble had been augmented to 11 musicians by the time of their second album, Navigations. The creating force behind the ensemble is improvisation. But the pieces do have something of a score, more like a map telling the musicians where the path is leading, what the objective is, and how to navigate toward it, thus preventing them from falling into the pits and traps of group improvising. And the Ensemble is very successful. Strangely, this 11-piece orchestra emanates a very soft music. Navigations is a record requiring all of the listener's attention. You can't do anything other than listen. If your mind drifts off for a few seconds, the music disappears (just like stargazing). The volume level on this record is sometimes so low that you will need to focus entirely on your speakers to convince yourself there is still something happening. Chris Burn and Co. cherish silence, and the results are very strong. If the music draws every ounce of attention the listener can give, it also rewards with an hour of very subtle textures. The music remains cerebra, very "British" in nature, but behind the clinical coldness lies a universe of impressionist touches and nuances.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture