By the time the Remote Viewers cover Erik Satie on this record's tenth track, the attentive listener has already drawn a parallel between that composer's absurdist proto-minimalism and this band's reserved and attractive update of the art song -- an intriguing amalgam of progressive classical, jazz, and pop idioms. Remote composer David Petts concocts spare, intricate contexts using synthesized drums and keyboards, saxes, and voice. Vocalist Louise Petts' smoky, sensuously detached voice is perfectly suited to interpret the deceptively simple melodies and evocative lyrics. David Petts is also a perceptive writer for multiple horns and keyboards; instrumentals like "Sequences of Regret" and "The Sickness of Books" reveal Petts' imaginative grasp of form, fine sense of timbre, and familiarity with what makes the saxophone tick. Petts' harmonies are eccentric but not unfettered; there's a tightly controlled anarchy at work here. Immaculately recorded and performed, this is brilliant music -- witty and unremittingly intelligent. Leo Lab is a label to keep an eye on. Conceived by Leo Records' founder Leo Feigin as an artist-subsidized offshoot of the free jazz-centric main label, lately the Lab imprint is arguably putting out the more interesting music. Whereas Leo Records continues to put out records that rely on the tried-and-true free improv/jazz aesthetic, Lab issues records that flout any and all convention. This one is a prime example. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Kelsey