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Cakewalk - Ishihara album review

Stormy third album from elemental Norwegian improv trio

Cakewalk - Ishihara album artwork

While Cakewalk’s members have roots in Norway’s ceaselessly fertile avant jazz and classical scenes, the music on the instrumental trio’s third album Ishihara is something else again, electro industrial rock with proggish overtones that morphs and mutates like a North Sea weather system – one moment it’s brooding and overcast, the next it’s breezy and clear.

It makes for a compelling and satisfyingly inventive album, its six tracks carved from the same sonic block, but each offering a different perspective (or rather perception – ‘Ishihara’ refers to a test for red/green colour blindness). Opening track Monkeys is propelled by a relentless thunder of rumbling drums, while dark clouds of droning synthetic strings gradually gather overhead – it’s hypnotic and overpowering, like some massive elemental force. In contrast, Shrooms is all jerky bass and playful keys, carnival music for a country fair held on Mars. Dome is a dubby psychedelic surge, lush and pleasantly soporific, while State’s lovely mellotronic flute melody counterpoints the pounding infernal engine of the rhythm track – not for the first time on this album, it conjures images of Phaedra-era Tangerine Dream playing in the bowels of hell.