Carolyn Hume

Wet Map

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The evolutionary step lacking from By Lakes Abandoned to Flames Undressed by Water (this duo's second and third albums) took place with Wet Map. The basic recipe remains the same: Carolyn Hume at the piano and keyboard, Paul May on drums, delivering ten tracks of laid-back music, with a couple guests popping their heads through the door for a track or two. But Wet Map relies less on pretty melodies and ambient moods. The music is pushed further into textural trenches, Hume digging menacing synth sweeps out of her keyboard, May at times turning to free-form percussion, or to others developing a fluid groove strongly reminiscent of Tony Buck's playing in the Necks' hypnotic extended improvisations -- especially in the 11-minute "Ghost Rider," which sees the duo jump over a few fences. Sonja Galsworthy's vocals in "Red Ice" adds a touch of melancholy, so does Berndt Rest's inventive electric guitar in the closing "Assembly Point." If the title track remains too shy (one quickly gets tired of the electric piano motif), the other tracks all go (if only a tiny bit) further than anything found on the duo's three previous efforts. Some listeners will find Wet Map to be a more demanding listen -- and they'll be right. But where Zero or Flames Undressed by Water had a tendency to fade in the background of your living room, this one regularly calls for your attention, encouraging you to turn up the volume and investigate what is happening below the calm surface. With this album, Hume and May have graduated from subtle instrumental music to exploratory light grooves.

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