Having briefly removed the ‘Quartet’ part of their name after the temporary departure of keyboardist Keir Vine, these ambiently inclined Londoners have now readopted their best-known monicker and sound more assured than ever on this fifth album.
Gorgeously brooding midnight piano introduces Objects To Place In A Tomb, before sax lines float smokily across it and stuttering drum’n’bass-ish beats add an uneasy edge. There’s a similarly widescreen feel to Current History, evoking mental images of stoned ravers blearily watching the sun rise on a Thai beach. For a band who built their reputation on jazzy experimentation, they also create their fair share of addictive hooks, albeit often stemming from a minimalist musical template. The hypnotic, dubby bassline of A Luminous Beam is a case in point, and their characteristic use of a hand‑made, steel drum-like Swiss instrument called the Hang brings Beyond Dialogue to life with a simple, circular motif. And even if that album title sounds like something a bunch of post-punk noiseniks would have come up with on a trip to East Berlin in 1981, this is anything but a cold, emotionless work. Automated it ain’t. Artful it most certainly is.