Tenor saxophonist Aaron Stewart, pianist Vijay Iyer, and drummer Elliot Humberto Kavee are Fieldwork, a trio as unorthodox in instrumentation as it is in methodology. Bringing extensive M-Base and free improvisational experience to the table, these players function together as a kind of musical laboratory. Their compositions are an outgrowth of their unique rehearsal process, which involves the exhaustive repetition of enormously subtle rhythmic patterns and cycles. The results are largely pulse-based, with written lines and figures setting up moonscapes of dense, rhythmically absorbing improvisation. Like much of what Iyer creates under his own name, this music has the distinction of being toe-tappingly accessible and yet, on a technical level, nearly incomprehensible. It is a highly specialized language, to be sure, but also an endlessly refreshing one. The absence of bass, moreover, ensures an unconventional timbre at all times. Highlights include the nearly hummable melody of "Horoscope," the gradual decelerando of "Step Lively," the unearthly harmonic darkness of "Generations" and "The Inner World," the fractured, funky shuffle of "Sublimation," and the maddeningly complex tom-tom patterns of "Sympathy," a brain-teaser for the ages.
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AllMusic Review by David R. Adler