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Vijay Iyer is a man fascinated by time. His previous trio CD, Historicity, was about ‘being placed in the stream of history’, time as the flow of past events, while his latest release Accelerando is, he says, to do with ‘the sound of bodies in motion, American creative music based on dance rhythms’. This recording marks a shift of focus to time as the pulse of the present – and, as he notes, ‘today’s context is acceleration’.

The metaphysics are fun, but Accelerando is not only about dancing in your head; its bristling rhythms may be complex, but they drive forward with serious momentum, powered by Iyer’s busy left hand (he is a pianist who loves the darker sounds) and a dynamite bassist and drummer.

Like Historicity and Iyer’s fine 2010 Solo CD, this new set is a mixture of originals and cover versions, the latter ranging from ballet music (Duke Ellington’s The Village of the Virgins) to electronica (Mmmhmm by Flying Lotus), all confirming the trio’s familiarity with most styles of music from what Iyer calls ‘the brown and black Atlantic’ diasporas. I particularly liked their propulsive take on Henry Threadgill’s Little Pocket Size Demons, a churning thicket of rhythmic interaction, and their gently rollicking Human Nature, more stretched and fractious than on Iyer’s Solo, yet still retaining its gruff, lyrical undertow.

Iyer’s own pieces, such as the surging Optimism and Lude, with its pockets of pared-back funk, are superb illustrations of the trio’s rhythmic adroitness, their non-stop, subtle interplay of tension and release.

GRAHAM LOCK Read the full review on Agora Classica


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