How, exactly, does one define Dawn of Midi? Composed of bassist Aakaash Israni, drummer Qasim Naqvi and pianist Amino Belyamani who have roots in Morocco, India, Pakistan and the fertile music program at CalArts, the group that is superficially a piano trio is far from anyone's definition of jazz with this album, which has a single, locked-groove composition that spirals through nine tracks and 47 engrossing minutes.
The closest analogue may be the Necks, a category-defying Australian trio who built a following around long-form improvised sets. But where the Necks' sound features an in-the-moment ebb and flow, Dawn of Midi is dedicated to perpetual forward motion, a rigorously composed blend of minimalism and trance music.
The record's moving parts first lock in place on "Io," a head-bobbing mix of upright bass and muted piano from Belyamani, who plays his instrument's inner strings as much as its keys. Gradually, yet insistently, the composition evolves into a seesawing ballet of rhythm on "Atlas," a hectic "Nix" and the spacious melody of "Moon," which gives way to the percolating "Ymir." Echoes of the shape-shifting patterns of Terry Riley and the more experimental tributaries of EDM ring throughout, but the record's propulsive, knotty tension carves out its own identity. It's a mysterious, vital sound with a pull all its own.
Dawn of Midi
Three and a half stars (out of four)