The last album by guitarist Dominic Miller, his first for ECM in 2017 called “Silent Light“, had us raving because of its tenderness and elegantly soft touch. Changing from an almost solo atmosphere to a full band on his new ECM opus “Absinthe”, Dominic now includes keyboards, bass, drums, and bandoneon on his ten new tracks, all written by himself.
The fact that he’s living in the south of France has played a vital role in shaping this new album again. He recently mentioned his love for the art of the impressionism and its artists (hence the album title; Edgar Degas created his “L’Absinthe” in 1876 and Picasso was also heavily influenced by it in his work and his life) and with the help of Santiago Arias playing the bandoneon, he creates a wonderfully warm sound, coloring the images of songs like “Mixed Blessing” and “Verveine” in blue and green. Dominic once again changes from nylon strings to steel and uses effective pauses in his playing, letting drummer Manu Katché play some of his most subtle and intuitive sounds, unlike those of his own recently released album. Both Dominic and Manu have played in the band of Sting for many years, but don’t expect any hints or resemblance to the pop/rock superstar’s oeuvre.
Like on his previous release, the focus is on highly concentrated, soothing, warm, intimate, and caressing ballad material, perfectly echoing the ECM aesthetics and sometimes reminding me of some of the earlier Pat Metheny/Lyle Mays albums from the late 70s/early 80s, especially with tracks like “Christiania”, where the bass playing of Nicolas Fiszman is exceptionally elegiac and lissome at the same time. On “Étude”, guitar and bandoneon are performing a dance altogether and the subtle soul touch underscoring the summery “Bicycle” is gracefully contemplative. Mike Lindup adds more nuances to the tapestry here, but never pulls it out too much.
There is some sort of uneven break coming along with “Ombu” which doesn’t really gel with the other tracks I think and “Ténèbres” turns out to be too washy. But with the album closer “Saint Vincent”, the band is manifesting its stance as one of the most instantly recognizable in the vast ECM roster and is proof again of Dominic’s way to come up with some really healing sounds and atmospheres.
If you have the chance, check out Dominic on tour in support of “Absinthe” which features the same band as on the album with the exception of Manu Katché who is replaced by Ziv Ravitz.
03/07 Stavanger – Konserthus
03/08 Haugesund – Teater og Konserthus
03/09 Oslo – Victoria Teater
03/10 Berlin – A-Trane
03/11 Berlin – A-trane
03/12 Paris – Studio de l’Ermitage
03/13 London – 606 Club
03/14 Copenhagen – Jazzhus Montmartre
03/15 Lomianki – Jazz Café
03/16 Plovdiv – House of Culture
03/17 Mainz – Frankfurter Hof
03/18 Madrid – Sala Galileo Galilei