Depending on your existing frame of reference, Dawn Of Midi are either the world’s most intensely focused post-rock group, a virtuosic all-acoustic techno act, Steve Reich’s minimalist wet dream made flesh or the future of jazz. In actual fact, there’s a pretty good argument for them being all of the above, and more besides. On their second album Dysnomia, drummer Qasim Naqvi, pianist Amino Belyamani and bassist Aakaash Israni shatter the stereotype of the “traditional” jazz trio into pieces so fine you’ll never be able to put it back together again, finding the sweet spot between Can, John Carpenter, Tortoise and Jeff Mills and drilling down into the resulting groove until they strike pure black gold. A single, meticulously rehearsed 47 minute performance, recorded live in the studio with no samples or overdubs and divided by strategically placed track IDs into nine distinct movements for commercial release, Dysnomia is the sound of organic real-time loops locking together like cogs in an elaborate clockwork booby-trap, simultaneously pulling towards and pushing against each other, synching up just long enough to set another wheel in motion before one of the players veers off on a tangent, forcing the other two to follow suit. Bone dry and as sparse as can be, there are no colourful solos or polyphonic piano chords here, Belyamani instead teasing out hypnotic, single note refrains with one hand whilst using the other to mute his piano’s strings, effectively adding an extra percussive layer to Naqvi’s clipped, kick/ snare drumming; occasionally a menacing minor key melody arises, only to shape-shift a few cycles later into another rhythmic tic whilst the fret-buzz and natural hum of Israni’s stand-up bass helps keep the mood dark and heavy. As the beat mutates, from avant-minimalism and seasick Krautrock (“Atlas”, “Nix“) to organic approximations of UR style techno (the racing “Ymir”), wonky 2-step (“Ijiraq”), Afro-house and Congotronics (“Algol“), pushing tirelessly forward like the mid-section of a particularly progressive DJ set, it’s virtually impossible to stop moving – hands twitching, feet tapping, head bobbing – even though your brain is begging you to stop and marvel; at the stamina of the players, at the musicianship required to pull off this marathon work without any obvious slip-ups, at the skill it takes to arrange and perform a piece like this without so much as a power cable in sight. But for all its considerable technical merit, the most impressive thing about Dysnomia is that it genuinely sounds unlike anything else, a rare feat indeed in an age where originality appears to be something of an alien concept. Despite their outwardly luddite aversion to modern technology, Naqvi, Israni and Belyamani are anything but stuck in the past, and whilst their febrile future boogie might confound and even piss off old-fashioned jazz purists, it is sure to enthrall forward-thinking open minds everywhere.
Dysnomia is out now via Thirsty Ear; stream the entire piece below.