"Thelema" is a word one does not run into every day; it is one of the Greek words meaning "will" -- as in, thy will be done -- and was adopted as a central tenet in the work of early 20th century occultist Aleister Crowley. One chamber group making its own kind of alchemy is the Thelema Trio; though founded in Belgium, it frequently works in the United States and consists of an interesting, do-it-yourself combination of instruments: saxophones (Peter Verdonck), clarinets (Marco Antonio Mazzini), and piano (Ward De Vleeschhouwer). The group is building a repertoire with this combination, whether it is duets with the winds, duets with one wind and piano, all three together, or a solo showcase for a single member of the group, and this collection -- Innova's Neither From Nor Towards… -- highlights pieces the Thelema Trio commissioned from composers in the Western Hemisphere.
Overall, Neither From Nor Towards… is a pretty strong collection, though it's hard not to have a special preference for South Korean-born American composer HyeKyung Lee's Shadowing, a slithery, minimalistic duet for alto sax and clarinet steadily chasing one another along a similar harmonic path; it's mesmerizing. Also quite attractive is American composer Kevin Walczyk's Refractions, scored for alto sax, clarinet, and piano, which has a lyrical, neo-classical sound, but is not nostalgic. Peruvian composer Rafael Leonardo Junchaya's Tres Danzas Episkénicas, scored for baritone and tenor saxes, bass and B flat clarinets, and piano, is buoyantly rhythmic and has sections sometimes reminiscent of the music in the original Twilight Zone television series (the background music, not Marius Constant's familiar theme). Perhaps the least interesting item on the disc is member Marco Antonio Mazzini's Imprevisto, basically just a very short collection of inarticulate sounds; one wonders, "What was that about?" The rest of it, though, is generally interesting, and while Thelema Trio's Neither From Nor Towards… might not send one into a state of astral projection, it's a bewitching enough brew to prove suitably trippy.