Paper Plane Paper Plane Independent ★★★ ✩
THE debut album from this Melbourne quartet features three graduates from the Elder Conservatorium in Adelaide: guitarist Hugh Stuckey, bassist Sam Zerna and drummer Hugh Harvey, plus Melbourne saxophonist Kieran Hensey. Their music is a unique kind of cerebral cool, often rhythmic but not hard-driving, with drums contributing additional melodic input rather than a heavy beat. The opener, Be Brave, begins with soft guitar chords, joined by tenor sax in the theme’s tonal stepping-down before an introspective guitar solo then an agile tenor as the drums emphasise and punctuate. There is a dreamy, floating quality to the collection, exemplified by the tenor’s long-held notes in Remnant and the guitar and tenor unison work in
Line of Thought and later the guitar’s embroidered interaction as the tenor glides unobtrusively. Quiet restraint is the keynote in Spinning Gears as bowed bass underpins ethereal guitar and tenor while busily inventive drum action becomes the foreground. Slower tempos are a characteristic throughout the album and Frog’s Remorse follows that pattern as the tenor delivers an aching solo, then flowing guitar lifts the mood. The only nonoriginal of nine tracks, Duke Ellington’s bluesy
Jump for Joy, is taken at a slower pace than that usually heard on this standard; more a smooth slide than a jump but it’s none the worse for that. It’s the most rhythmic in the collection, with Harvey’s skilful brushes at first, then sticks, and both guitar and tenor inject a deep Delta feel into their solos. This album by talented players is rewarding for its unusually contemplative approach.